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15 Wildlife Conservation Success Stories    

In our world today, we have countless stories of animals almost on the brink of extinction. Many species face threats like illegal poaching, habitat loss, climate change, and pollution. However, while many challenges face our natural world affecting wild populations, we also have many wildlife conservation success stories. 

Through conservation efforts, many individuals, governments, and non-governmental organizations work to protect and restore some endangered species on our planet. In this article, we will explore some success stories of endangered species making a comeback today. 

15 Wildlife Conservation Success Stories From Around The World 

1. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

bald eagle
Photo by Andy Morffew on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

One popular conservation success story is that of the bald eagle. Back in the mid-20th century, its population began to drop drastically. 

Using a pesticide called DDT weakened the eagles’ eggshells, affecting their reproductive success and causing a decline in bald eagles. In addition, habitat destruction due to urban development further aggravated their struggles. 

As of the early 1960s, the bald eagle population was almost extinct. In 1967, the bald eagle was listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act as an endangered species. This legal protection was critical to protect the rest of the population and prevent further decline. Also, the use of DDT was banned in the 1970s. Thanks to these efforts, the eagle population began to stabilize and thrive. 

Conservation efforts like preserving their nesting sites also aided the resurgence of bald eagles. In fact, in 2007, the bald eagle bounced back from the brink of extinction, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the endangered species list.

Today, bald eagles are a common sight in the United States, making special appearances in Alaska, along the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes Region, and the Pacific Northwest.  

2. California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

california condor
Photo by DickDaniels on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The California Condor is a magnificent bird that has gone through a spectacular journey from extinction to resurgence thanks to captive breeding and other conservation efforts. The California Condor has a notable appearance and a 3-meter or 9.5-foot wingspan. Sadly, this bird was close to extinction due to various factors, including habitat loss, lead poisoning, and a changing environment. 

Thankfully, the turning point came with the introduction of a captive breeding program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the risky but bold decision to capture all the California Condor birds left in the wild. With all the birds captured, they focused their conservation efforts on breeding these birds at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo.

While this was quite a daunting task, it proved to be highly successful. They released the birds back into the wild, and the wild population of the California Condor bounced back from near extinction and has continued to thrive over the years.

3. Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

giant panda
Photo by J. Patrick Fischer on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The story of the Giant Panda is nothing short of remarkable. From their habitat loss and rapid decline to their resurgence, the story of this creature is evidence of the power of ongoing conservation efforts in wildlife restoration. 

Giant Pandas were once a common sight in Northern and Southern China. However, due to human activities, like agricultural expansion and deforestation, these creatures became limited in areas with bamboo forests. Bamboo consists of nearly their entire diet, and the loss of bamboo forests meant the loss of their natural habitat and overall sustenance.

One major factor that led to the resurgence of Giant Pandas was the establishment of protected areas where pandas could thrive without threats like habitat destruction and other human activities. 

In these reserves, conservationists worked to ensure that these pandas had all they needed to thrive, including providing medical care and giving them access to enough bamboo. Other conservation projects like bamboo reforestation projects and partnerships with wildlife conservation organizations helped to restore their natural habitat and generate awareness and support.   

4. Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

blue whale
Photo by Ben Phillips on Pexels.

Deep in the world’s ocean is the largest creature known to have existed on our planet. The blue whale is a magnificent sea creature that weighs up to 200 tonnes and has a long and slender body with varying shades of grey and blue.

Sadly, people relentlessly hunted these incredible creatures for their meat, bones, and blubber. This led to their population decline, pushing them to the brink of extinction. 

Thankfully, some conservation efforts laid the foundation for blue whale recovery. For one, The International Whaling Commission (IWC) created a temporary ban on commercial whaling and established whale sanctuaries like the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

In 2018, the WWF supported the making of one of the world’s largest marine protected areas in the Ross Sea designed to help protect the Antarctic Blue Whale as well as other species that fell under the critically endangered species list. Thanks to these conservation efforts, the blue whale has stayed on the path of recovery. 

5. Swift Fox (Vulpes velox)

swift fox
Photo by Cburnett on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The story of the Swift Fox is almost tragic, as these predators were nearly wiped out around the 20th century. But in 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to the rescue, listing the Swift Fox under the Endangered Species Act as a candidate species. 

While this was a step in the right direction, it meant that the Swift Fox didn't have full protection under the Endangered Species Act because there were other high-priority species on the Endangered Species List. 

This situation led to the formation of the Swift Fox Conservation Team, which is made up of a group of states that worked together to launch successful reintroduction campaigns, protect grassland habitat, and research swift fox ecology and the best management practices.

Through these conservation efforts, the swift fox populations began to stabilize, taking them off the endangered species list. 

6. Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii)

kirtland's warbler
Photo by Jeol Trick on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Kirtland Warbler is a songbird that thrives in a unique and specific habitat. More specifically, these birds require young and dense jack pine forests for nesting. 

Low-intensity fires typically cleared the forests, taking out the older and bigger trees and creating ground for young jackpines to thrive. However, the suppression of fires led to no young jack pines, taking away the Kirtland Warbler’s habitat. 

In addition, the parasitic brown-headed cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, making it difficult for warblers to lay their eggs and grow their young successfully. These threats led to a decline in their population and prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list these birds as an endangered species in 1967.

Fast-forward a few years, and conservationists began aggressively removing cowbirds, leading to improvements in the Warblers' nesting. Also, land managers and other conservation organizations created a more suitable habitat by clearing up the old trees and planting young jack pine seedlings. 

Due to these conservation initiatives, the Kirtland Warbler population continued to grow and fell off the endangered species list in 2019.

7. Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)

louisiana black bear
Photo by Charles Barilleaux on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Louisiana Black Bear recovery is another story of wildlife conservation success. Being a subspecies of black bear, the Louisiana black bear is mostly found in East Texas, western Mississippi, and Louisiana. 

By the late 20th century, the black bear lost almost all of its habitat and fell under the list of threatened species. Thankfully, a few land restoration programs helped them recover. For example, the Wetlands Reserve Program led to the restoration and permanent protection of thousands of acres of their habitat. 

In addition, partnerships with state and federal agencies, private landowners, and non-governmental organizations have led to their comeback. In 2015, this black bear species was removed from the Endangered Species Act.

8. Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx)

arabian oryx
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

Once upon a time, the Arabian Oryx roamed freely in the deserts of countries like Saudi Arabia. But habitat loss and climate change brought these birds to extinction. Thanks to efforts from conservationists, local communities, and the government, these species bounced back from extinction. 

Captive breeding programs were pivotal in restoring the Arabian Oryx populations. They released the first captive-bred Arabian oryx into the wild in Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 1982. Several reintroduction programs continued to emerge, leading to the creation of protected areas. Today, the Arabian Oryx thrives and has become a common sight in native deserts. 

9. Land Iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus)

land iguana
Photo by Victor Gleim on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Galapagos Islands are home to an incredible biological diversity from plants to birds, reptiles, and land mammals that you will not find anywhere else in the world. 

Sadly, some species on this island, including the Land Iguana, were under threat due to climate change and the introduction of invasive species like goats, pigs, cats, and donkeys. These species wreaked havoc, devouring plants and animals, including the iguana. 

The land iguana disappeared from Santiago Island in the 1830s due to the introduction of invasive species. Thankfully, it isn't all sad news for the Land Iguana, as they are now bouncing back thanks to efforts to remove these invasive species. Conservationists also reintroduced thousands of iguanas to the Galapagos Islands, restoring their ecosystem. 

10. Tigers (Panthera tigris)

Photo by Thomas B. on Pexels.

Over the past decade, tigers have been under threat due to illegal wildlife trade, exotic pet trade, and animal entertainment. 

In fact, only an estimated 3200 tigers were left on our planet. But since 2015, this number has grown by 40%, according to the IUCN. Tiger populations have almost tripled thanks to the collaborative efforts of individuals, non-profit organizations, and the government.

For example, on December 20th, 2022, President Biden signed the Big Cat Public Safety Act into law to help the illegal trade of captive tigers, which is a significant threat to tigers in the wild.

11. Salmon Fishery

You can find the largest Salmon fishery in the world in Bristol Bay in Alaska. Sadly, the salmon in Bristol Bay has been under threat due to climate change and the proposed Pebble Mine Project, which threatened the survival of salmon eggs and the entire ecosystem. 

Thankfully, efforts from native landowners and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency led to the end of the Pebble Mine project, stabilizing the salmon population. 

12. Rainbow Toad (Ansonia latidisca)

The story of the Rainbow toad is quite a peculiar one. The Bornean Rainbow toad, or the Sambas steam toad, was declared extinct for many years, having been threatened by various environmental factors. 

These rare species with a unique, vibrant color and appearance seemingly vanished from Borneo’s rainforests and were presumed extinct. It wasn't until 2011, during an expedition into the deep Borneo rainforests, that scientists rediscovered the toad, showing that there is still hope for this unique amphibian. 

13. Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

monarch butterflies
Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash.

In 2022, monarch butterflies entered the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Both the Western and Eastern Monarch butterflies faced rapid declines in their population due to issues like drought, habitat loss, illegal logging, and so on. The IUCN stated that the Eastern population dropped 22% and 72% a decade ago. On the other hand, the Western population has fallen by a massive 99.9%. 

Thankfully, it isn't all bad news for monarch butterflies. The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico saw a 35% increase in its population, giving hope to several years of steady decline.

14. Beavers (Castor)

Photo by Steve on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Beavers are keystone species known for creating and maintaining habitats for other creatures. These creatures are earth's construction workers building dams and canals that prevent erosion and flooding. 

Sadly, people hunted down these rodents for their fur. People also used their natural secretions to make perfumes and medicine. Their population continued to decline and have been extinct for more than 400 years. 

However, decades later, the Scottish Beaver Trial released the first beavers into the wild in Scotland in May 2009. A group of beavers were also spotted in East Devon in 2014 and reintroduced on the River Otter in 2020.  

Thanks to the appearance of beavers, water damage has been reduced in local communities, native plants have begun to grow again, and beavers have created new habitats for other wildlife, like wading birds. 

15. Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis)

black rhino
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Over the years, black rhinos have been a victim of illegal poaching. People hunted down black rhinos for their horns, which they used to make ornamental pieces and medicines. In addition to habitat loss, black rhinos fell to the point of extinction in the 20th century. 

However, the black rhinos experienced a glimpse of hope thanks to efforts from conservation groups, communities, and the government. Deploying anti-poaching teams and other community-based conservation initiatives has reduced poaching incentives, helping to stabilize the rhino population. 

Wildlife conservation: Fighting Pollution And Climate Change 

Pollution and climate change are major factors that lead to habitat destruction, killing of wildlife, and deteriorating human health. However, global efforts are being made to tackle the issues that come with the climate crisis and pollution. 

The United Nations Environment Assembly Treaty

Plastic pollution is by far one of the plagues of our planet. In a few more years, annual plastic production will double, causing more harm to wildlife, humans, and the environment.

To tackle this, the UN Environment Assembly created a treaty to end plastic pollution. This treaty holds local communities, businesses, and nations accountable for removing plastic waste from the environment. 

This was a tremendous undertaking since the Montreal Protocol in 1989 that successfully took out ozone-depleting substances. They are set to finalize the treaty by 2024, and the goal is to reduce the production of plastics, switch to a closed-loop production system, and address the health issues that come with plastic pollution. 

The Inflation Reduction Act    

On August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed to fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions. With this Act, the United States aims to restore coastal areas, habitats, and forests, which helps preserve wildlife. 

The goal is also to increase clean power production and protect vulnerable places. With the Act, money will also go into reducing pollution and emissions in rural communities, home energy rebates, climate-friendly agricultural practices, and other initiatives that help tackle climate change. 

Wrapping up: Wildlife Conservation Success Stories    

With these wildlife conservation stories, we can see that if we put in the work, we can reverse decades of decline and pull species off the edge of extinction. From the bald eagle to the black bear, tiger, beaver, and butterflies, you can go through our article to find stories of conservation success that will inspire you. 

Read wildlife conservation success stories around the world and be inspired to join the cause.

These wildlife conservation success stories include tales of innovative solutions, collective action, and nature's resilience to adversity.

By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Chi King on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).
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