Which is undoubtedly and unapologetically the favorite animal of a kid that doesn’t want to leave his cozy bed and is highly reluctant to go to school? A sloth! Without a second thought in our minds, the ever-smiling faces of these lazy creatures pop up in our minds. These somnolent tree-dwellers sleep more than 20 hours a day and even when they are awake, they barely move at all. A spirit animal to many of us, isn’t it? The matter of fact is that they’re such incredibly sluggish ones and are so sedentary that algae actually grows on their fur! Recently, there was news that even these adorable animals are on the verge of extinction? So how far is it true? Are sloths endangered? We’ll find out that and the threats faced by sloths below. So stay tuned.
Where Do Sloths Live?
Though their ancestors lived in North America, modern Sloths are tropical mammals, residing in Central and South America. Most sloths will inhabit numerous trees during their lifetime, but some, including the three-toed species, may spend their entire lives on the same tree they were born in. The plant lends them a greenish tint that provides them beneficial camouflage in the vegetation of their Central and South American rainforest home.
More Interesting Factors About A Sloth:
Sloths are recognized by the number of extensive prominent claws that they have on each anterior foot. Both two-toed and three-toed types of sloths exist. It takes them only about a minute to climb 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) of heights. These omnivorous mammals breed and give birth to their young ones while hanging on the trees. Three-toed sloth new-borns are frequently observed clinging to their mother. The babies travel by hanging on to them for the initial nine months of their lives. Sloths may be sluggish climbers, but they are swift swimmers. They’re naturally buoyant and can perform the breaststroke with surprising ease. Since sloths settle down in the rainforests prone to seasonal flooding, the ability to swim is critical to their survival. They occasionally dive directly from rain forest trees into streams and stroke efficiently with their long arms. The lazy behavior of these omnivorous mammals can be blamed to their leafy diet which does not provide them apt nutrition and energy.
Are Sloths Endangered?
Even though they are defenseless creatures, their populations aren’t struggling for survival as a whole. Nonetheless, human beings pose a threat to their continued existence through deforestation and poaching. Out of the six existing species, one is conscripted as critically endangered, whereas one is enlisted as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Despite the fact that there are no known predators, the populace of the sloth species has always been quite low. In the year 2011, a study revealed that there were only 79 pygmy three-toed sloths in the wilderness, which was a much lower number than what was predicted.
It has been announced that the world’s rarest and smallest sloth deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) lives only on the tiny Isla Escudo de Veraguas off the coast of Panama and is perhaps one of the scarcest mammals in the sphere. Besides the preceding factors, the left behind four types is registered as least fretful species. Is it just the mankind or there are more threats to these relaxed sluggish arboreal mammals? Let us try to find out about this further in the article.
Threats Faced By The Sloths:
As of now, only the pygmy sloths are considered to be endangered, with the threats which are as follows:
Loss Of Habitat
The health of the tropical rainforests is exclusively responsible for the well-being of the sloths. But tropical rain forests are facing severe risks of deforestation. Devoid of proper vegetation, sloths will lose their protection and food source. When sloths come to the forest floorboards- which they do just once a week to alleviate themselves—they are exposed to predators quite more than usual and can do a very little to defend themselves. Take the pygmy sloths for example. It’s turning out to be very difficult for them to survive because their habitat is shrinking at a rapid pace, which was itself quite low in number.
Slow Rate Of Reproduction
All sloths are solitary by nature and come together only to mate. Just one infant is born after a gestation period of 6 months with the birth interval being 1 year for maned sloths. Hence, their offspring are only born once every year, which makes the population challenging to increase and grow to a stable number.
The fate of Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth looks pretty dim. With the knowledge acquired by the surveys, they are likely to be extinct by 2022, this is because tourism is highly likely to expand and multiply on the island on which they live. This is going to shrink their already small habitat, causing them to suffer a loss of food. That means they would be deprived of two of the most crucial things for them to survive. There are chances that they might survive if we protect their habitat and restrict people from diminishing their habitat.
Humans are tirelessly cutting down the red mangrove trees, the natural homes of the pygmy three-toed sloth. Since they live in such a small area, it gets difficult for the sloths to survive. Be it for wood, or for industrial trades, the humans recklessly cut down the woods for their own selfish needs.
Even though humans don’t reside on the islands where these sloths live, there are still visitors or tourists such as fishermen, lobster divers and local people who are known to hunt the Pygmy three-toed sloth. This unchecked harmful activity causes severe decrement in the populace of the pygmy three-toed sloth.
Failure In Understanding The Importance Of These Mammals
Continued devastation and fragmentation of the habitat of the sloths, exploitation for food, presence of feral cats, unchecked poaching, and lack of sufficient legal protection for the pygmy three-toed sloth, without any effective realization on the parts of the humans, have continually threatened the existence of the sloths and resulted in a decrease in their population without any redemption to the cause.
Yes, it’s true that for now only the Pygmy sloths are endangered to a critical limit, but if we fail to acknowledge the threats towards the existence of these sluggish, smiley-faced creatures, the day is not very far when all of them might get endangered. If you have any query on why are sloths endangered, leave us a comment below.