The earth’s landscape is in a continuous state of flux. Volcanoes erupt, storms wipe out entire cities, and earthquakes shake the very core of our planet. Each of these natural occurrences continues to put some of our most beloved places on earth in jeopardy of being lost forever. Every year, geological (and ecological) devastation takes with it countless species of plant and wild life—precious gems which are quickly deteriorating before our very eyes.
We’ve compiled a list of nine of the most endangered places in the world. If you’re planning a vacation, consider one of these destinations… while they’re still here for our enjoyment.
The Dead Sea in Jordan is the lowest point on the planet and reaches temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summertime. The Dead Sea has already lost one-third of its surface area and water levels continue to drop. Since 1970, the Dead Sea has been sinking one metre per year! It’s been predicted that annual inflows will continue to decline and the salt waters may disappear entirely within the next 100 years.
Lower sea levels have contributed to the creation of more than 2,000 collapsing sinkholes around the shores, and environmentalists are in constant discussion to try and divert water from other sources to save the sea.
2. Amazon Rainforest, South America
More than 30 million people and countless wildlife species depend on the Amazon Rainforest, and it’s ecosystem, to survive. Even though the Amazon Rainforest crosses the borders of eight different countries and includes 1.4 billion hectares of forest, it is disappearing at an alarming pace. Illegal logging, agriculture and construction projects are contributing to the forest’s destruction. Experts believe that when climate change is added to the equation, more than half of the rainforest could cease to exist by 2030.
3. Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Like many glacial land masses, the Swiss Alps are dwindling away and shrinking at an accelerated pace due to global warming. Over the course of the last century, the Aletsch glacier, the largest Alpine glacier in Switzerland, has receded by more than two kilometres. Many scientists predict that if the current weather trends continue, the glacial Alps will be nothing but a memory by the year 2050. The shrinking of these glaciers have also forced Switzerland and Italy to remap their borders.
4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
There are close to 3,000 individual coral reefs that make up Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Pollution and global warming have caused scientists to predict the shrinking reef could lose 95 percent of its coral by the year 2050.
As global warming heats up the oceans it causes the organisms that give coral its colour and nourishment to die. At least 40 species living in and around the Great Barrier Reef are listed as endangered.
5. Venice, Italy
Just thinking of vacationing in Venice conjures up images of romantic gondola rides and historic architecture, but the reality is that Venice is slowly sinking. Its position and the shifting sediments underneath make it very unstable, and the rising sea levels caused by global warming make the possibility of sinking even greater.
Some experts believe the whole city could be underwater within 20 years. The government is hard at work on a floodgate system, but if a boat ride through the canals of Venice are on your bucket list, don’t wait too long.
6. Tsavo East National Park, Kenya
The Tsavo East National Park in Kenya is one of the oldest parks in the country, and covers 4% of Kenya’s total land area. Over the past several decades, poaching and the destruction of natural habitat has caused several native animal species to become endangered.
The park site is located between Nairobi and Mombassa, and in it you’ll find the red elephant, rhinos, buffalo, lions, and many more animals. So if you’re interested in animal photography or watching herds of African wildlife, plan your visit before some of these exotic species are gone for good.
7. Tibet, China
Even though it isn’t a natural world wonder that’s facing obliteration, the culture and language of the Tibetan people is currently at stake. Since the Chinese took over Tibet in the 1950s, the traditions of Tibet have slowly been erased. The Dalai Lama has cautioned the people of Tibet, and the rest of the world, that Tibetan culture as it is known today is in jeopardy.
Aside from the threat to Tibet’s culture, its land is also in danger. Mining is a growing threat in the nation, as more than half of Tibet’s natural forest area has been destroyed since the Chinese occupation.
8. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The stunning icecap that sits atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania may be completely gone by the year 2020 if the current weather patterns persist. The peak has lost more than one quarter of its icecap since 2000 and there doesn’t seem to be a slowdown in sight. Climbing the mountain would be less challenging if it no longer had snow, but much of the majesty of the mountain would definitely be lost.
Many of the area’s endangered species rely on the mountain, its forests and the surrounding savannah to survive — Kilimanjaro’s entire delicate ecosystem is at stake.
9. Everglades National Park, Florida
American crocodiles, sea turtles and Florida panthers are just a few of the unique species that call the Everglades National Park home. Located at the southern tip of Florida, this area is the largest sub-tropical wilderness reserve in North America. Over 350 species of birds and 300 species of fish live here. There is one area of the park called ‘Ten Thousand Islands’ that is the only spot on earth where crocodiles and alligators coexist.
After Hurricane Andrew in 1993, the Everglades never fully recovered from the destruction it encountered. Further habitat destruction has been caused by humans, global warming, urban development and natural fires as a result of lightning — all of which are making the existence of this special ecosystem a little precarious.