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50 endangered species that only live in the Amazon Rainforest

Stacker Logo By Betsy Ladyzhets of Stacker | Slide 1 of 51: Calling the Amazon rainforest “the lungs of the planet” may appear melodramatic, but it holds some truth: As the largest tropical forest on Earth, the Amazon spans eight countries and 1.4 billion acres. If placed over the United States, the Amazon would stretch from western Pennsylvania to eastern California and from Canada to Mexico. The forest is one of our largest terrestrial carbon sinks, meaning its trees store carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. 2019 reports estimate that the Amazon absorbs about 5% of all the carbon dioxide released each year.

And right now, these “lungs” are on fire. More than 74,000 wildfires have blazed across Brazil in the summer of 2019 alone, with about 40,000 of those fires threatening the Amazon. This is the highest rate of fires since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research began collecting such data, and an 80% increase from summer 2018. 2019’s fires have been tied to Jair Bolsonaro, a climate-change-denying populist and Brazil’s president as of January 2019. Bolsonaro’s changing policies have allowed rampant burning of land around the rainforest to clear land for agriculture; these fires spread easily to the forest itself. The three Brazilian states with the worst increase in fire this year have local governments led by Bolsonaro’s allies, and his government intends to prevent conservation in the rainforest, according to reporting from The Atlantic. Bolsonaro authorized the Brazilian military to fight the fires late in August, but people around the world continue to criticize his role in the environmental catastrophe.

These fires not only pose a threat to a major source of our oxygen; they also threaten approximately one-tenth of the known species on Earth. The Amazon is home to 40,000 plants, 3,000 freshwater fish, hundreds of reptiles, thousands of birds and butterflies, and mammals such as jaguars, sloths, and Amazon river dolphins, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, —and that’s just the species we’ve discovered. The forest is also home to more than 30 million people, including hundreds of indigenous groups, many of whom are now protesting President Bolsonaro. Meanwhile, organizations around the world such as the Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation, and Amazon Watch work to preserve this habitat.

To explore some of the incredible life threatened by these fires, Stacker used 2019 data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List to identify 50 endangered animal and plant species that live only in the Amazon Rainforest and the surrounding Amazon Basin. Each species on this list is marked by the IUCN as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered according to the most recent data available for that species.

Read on to learn about and see incredible photos of rare species from the white-bellied spider monkey to the yellow-spotted river turtle.

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50 endangered species that only live in the Amazon Rainforest

Calling the Amazon rainforest “the lungs of the planet” may appear melodramatic, but it holds some truth: As the largest tropical forest on Earth, the Amazon spans eight countries and 1.4 billion acres. If placed over the United States, the Amazon would stretch from western Pennsylvania to eastern California and from Canada to Mexico. The forest is one of our largest terrestrial carbon sinks, meaning its trees store carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. 2019 reports estimate that the Amazon absorbs about 5% of all the carbon dioxide released each year.

More than 74,000 wildfires blazed across Brazil in the summer of 2019 alone, with about 40,000 of those fires threatening the Amazon. This is the highest rate of fires since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research began collecting such data, and an 80% increase from summer 2018. 2

The fires not only pose a threat to a major source of our oxygen; they also threaten approximately one-tenth of the known species on Earth. The Amazon is home to 40,000 plants, 3,000 freshwater fish, hundreds of reptiles, thousands of birds and butterflies, and mammals such as jaguars, sloths, and Amazon river dolphins, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, —and that’s just the species we’ve discovered. 

To explore some of the incredible life threatened by these fires, Stacker used 2019 data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List to identify 50 endangered animal and plant species that live only in the Amazon Rainforest and the surrounding Amazon Basin. Each species on this list is marked by the IUCN as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered according to the most recent data available for that species.

Scroll through to learn about and see incredible photos of rare species from the white-bellied spider monkey to the yellow-spotted river turtle.

© Clément Bardot // Wikimedia Commons

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