This week we are commemorating Endangered Species Day by taking a closer look at the two types of sloth that are currently threatened with extinction. There has never been a more important time for conservation action, with a UN report earlier this month declaring that over 1 million species are now at risk of extinction. The loss of species and habitats now poses as much danger to life on Earth as climate change does.
While this news is shocking, we still have good reason to be optimistic. Every single person has the power to save endangered species. The way that each of us shops, eats, and the small choices that we make in our everyday lives all influence the likelihood of many species surviving. Please don’t ever underestimate the collective impact of your daily actions!
Of the six species of sloth that exist today, two are threatened with extinction. The maned sloth is a bit of an oddball – a species of three-fingered sloth which boasts a mane like a lion! These elusive creatures now only exist in a tiny strip of Atlantic forest on the coast of Brazil and are currently listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss from lumber extraction, plantation clearance, agriculture and charcoal production. There is also some evidence to show poaching for both food and the pet trade. The maned sloths are larger and more aggressive than the other species of three-fingered sloth, and they are the only species in which males do not develop a brightly coloured “speculum” (an orange patch of fur on the back) at sexual maturity!
The second endangered species on our list is the pygmy sloths. This is a little species of three-fingered sloth that can only be found on a remote, uninhabited island off the coast of Panama and was only identified as a new species in 2001. They are thought to be approximately 40% smaller than their mainland counterparts and although the population size remains unknown, these little sloths are considered to be one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world. They average around 3 Kg in weight and are approximately 24 inches long, looking very similar to the brown-throated sloth.
If you would like to know what YOU can do to help save sloths from extinction, we have compiled a list of 7 simple ways that you can help sloths today!