Are Sloths Endangered? Know The Coolest Facts On This Endangered Species | Kidadl

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Are Sloths Endangered? Know The Coolest Facts On This Endangered Species

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Sloths are slow, tree-dwelling creatures that you may come across in a Central or South American forest.

There are six sloth species, out of which two are considered endangered species. According to the IUCN Red List, the pygmy three-toed sloth is Critically Endangered, while the maned sloth is considered Vulnerable.

These bears have a naturally long life, living for 20-30 years in the wild. There are a number of reasons why these sloths face extinction, with the biggest one being deforestation. The secondary threats they face stem from the destruction of their habitat, as it makes them vulnerable. Being slow-moving creatures with limited mobility on the ground makes them very susceptible to succumbing to danger, which unfortunately seems to be the case for a lot of them recently. When sloths come to the ground for food or to defecate, they become very easy targets, which is why they are at high risk of being poached or being hunted by predators. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations that are spreading awareness about the decreasing number of sloths, and there are many ways in which we can contribute from home.

If you enjoyed this article, do check out our other pages such as sloth bear facts and are skunks nocturnal.

Why are sloths endangered?

The sloth population is rapidly decreasing due to the loss of habitat caused by deforestation, which has led to a host of problems for these slow-moving arboreal creatures. These sensitive animals like to keep to themselves and shy away from human interaction.

As the primary habitat of these animals is above the ground in the trees, their slow-moving nature is not usually a problem for them as they are safe from predators and other threats. However, due to the chopping down of trees, they have started to come down onto the ground more recently. This causes a huge problem for them as they are vulnerable to attacks by other predators, poaching, and being run over by vehicles if they make their way onto roads. Sloths possess neither the speed nor intelligence to deal with these situations, which unfortunately has led to their populations rapidly decreasing in the past few decades. Sloths have also been observed using overhead electrical lines in order to move around in the absence of trees in their habitats, which can lead to electrocution. This has been observed quite frequently in Costa Rica.

There currently exists six species of sloths, out of which two are threatened. The endangered sloth species are the pygmy three-toed sloth found in Panama and the maned three-toed sloth found in Brazil, both of which are endemic species to South America.

The other two three-toed sloth species, the brown-throated sloth and the pale-throated sloth, as well as Linnaeus's two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) and Hoffman's two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), are of Least Concern and currently face no danger due to their abundant numbers in the wild.

How can we protect endangered sloths?

There are a number of ways we can help endangered sloths, both from home and as a community. The number one priority is to make sure that sloths don't lose their natural habitat, as it is the number one reason why their population is declining so rapidly. Organizations such as Amazon Watch, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Rainforest Trust aim to help save the environment, which in turn will help a number of wildlife species keep their home. Donating to their cause is surely helpful.

The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has an adopt a sloth program, where you can donate and symbolically adopt a sloth and pay for its care and needs. Other organizations such as the Sloth Conservation and the Rainforest Alliance aim to help this animal thrive in the forests again and donating to them, however small an amount, can help to realize this cause.

If you are fond of adventure and a traveler at heart, then there are groups that seek volunteers who are willing to travel into remote rainforests to help with fielding and tracking. For those who wish to help from afar, funding and providing remote services are also available as options.

As a community, it is our duty to make conscious choices and watch what we buy. Palm oil, which is an ingredient found in almost half of the packaged items we buy from supermarkets, is obtained by cutting down rainforests and processing the fruits of palms tree, which causes further habitat loss for a number of wildlife species. Though buying products that do not contain palm oil can be difficult, we can choose products certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which guarantees that the palm oil used in them has not been obtained through deforestation. There are a lot of individual steps we can take in order to be sustainable such as reducing our carbon footprints, recycling whatever we can and not buying unnecessary items especially those made of wood and paper, and disposing of waste responsibly.

These small sustainable steps, if taken by a large number of people, can surely help to change the lives of sloths even if they live miles away. Making a few small changes in our own life can help to bring a bigger change in the environment if it is done with good intentions.

The pygmy three-toed sloth can only be found on a remote island near the coast of Panama, and its current population numbers make it Critically Endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

Why are three-toed sloths endangered?

Three-toed sloths refer to these species of sloth, the maned sloth, pygmy three-toed sloth, pale-throated sloth, and brown-throated sloth, all of which can be found in Central and South America. There are two other sloth species as well, however, these are two-toed varieties.

Out of the known species of sloths, pygmy and maned three-toed sloths are special as they are both endemic, meaning they are native to specific areas. There are only a few localized populations of each of these species that cannot be found anywhere else.

The pygmy sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is the smallest species of sloth and is only found on Escudo de Veraguas, a remote island off the coast of Panama. The area inhabited by pygmy three-toed sloths is very small so they are currently considered Critically Endangered according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List.

The maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus) is found in Brazil. It is declared as currently Vulnerable due to its limited range, and its population decreasing because of the effects of canopy fragmentation and deforestation. Canopies are essential in order for sloths to stay off the ground, and any loss of forest canopy means less area for sloths to live in.

Is a sloth slower than a snail?

Surprisingly, sloths are the slowest animals in the world, even beating out slugs and snails for this title! It is not surprising, as the name 'sloth' itself means 'extreme laziness' or 'sluggishness'.

In fact, if you compare the average speed of a snail to that of a sloth, you will find that snails are almost 10 times faster-moving at a speed of 0.03 mph (0.048 kph), while sloths move at a measly 0.003 mph (0.005 kph)! Some sloths are known to move so slow that algae can grow on them, mistaking them for stationary objects!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Are sloths endangered? Know the coolest facts on this endangered species then why not take a look at Spaniel shedding scrutinized: Are Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic?, or Are gorillas omnivores? The gorilla's diet might surprise you?

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

Tanya always had a knack for writing which encouraged her to be a part of several editorials and publications across print and digital media. During her school life, she was a prominent member of the editorial team at the school newspaper. While studying economics at Fergusson College, Pune, India, she got more opportunities to learn details of content creation. She wrote various blogs, articles, and essays that garnered appreciation from readers. Continuing her passion for writing, she accepted the role of a content creator, where she wrote articles on an array of topics. Tanya’s write-ups reflect her love for traveling, learning about new cultures, and experiencing local traditions.

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