In 1973, the government established the Endangered Species Act to protect animal species that are on the verge of extinction. In many cases, factors such as destruction of habitat, shifts in climate and disruptions in the food chain are enough to diminish wildlife populations. Even in recent years, despite human attempts to conserve endangered animals, many species have vanished.
In 1989, the golden toad went extinct due to pollution, climate changes, ultraviolet radiation and fungal skin infections. The males possessed a bright golden color, rather than the usual gray or brown skin pigmentation of most toads. Females displayed a variety of skin colors, including yellow and black. The toads inhabited areas of Costa Rica.
The Zanzibar leopard, which inhabited the Zanzibar archipelago of Tanzania, may have met extinction in 1996; however, individuals occasionally report sightings. Due to superstitious beliefs that the leopards belonged to witches, humans ruthlessly hunted the animals. Efforts to save the demonized Zanzibar leopards were not enough to conserve the remaining members of the species.
This species of wild goat went extinct in 2000 when a tree crushed the last remaining female. Before that, widespread hunting practices helped to diminish the number of wild Pyrenean ibex in regions of Spain and the French Pyrenees. In 2009, scientists created a cloned ibex from skin samples; however, the animal died from complications in its lungs.
West African Black Rhinoceros
For decades, poachers hunted West African black rhinoceroses for their horns. The poachers then sold the horns in marketplaces in Asia and Yemen, where people used them to create medicine and daggers. According to an article in "National Geographic," the World Conservation Union declared the species’ extinction in 2006.
Despite its name, the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was a marsupial with a canine appearance. As early as the 1830s, settlers hunted thylacines for a bounty, which the Tasmanian Parliament introduced in an attempt to protect livestock. According to Discovery News, even before the bounty hunters entered the picture, the thylacines faced overwhelming competition posed by dingos. The species finally went extinct in the 1930s.