If you've already checked out our launch collection you may have noticed that we have some rather unique names for our sunglasses. You may have even noticed that each pair is named after a particular endangered species.
We've done this not only to represent the natural look and feel of our collection, but also to bring some character and individuality to each of our sunglasses. More importantly however is the awareness we hope to raise about these endangered animals through our products. Even if the impact is equivalent to a drop in the ocean from a small business like ours at least it's a start :)
Each of the endangered species we've chosen to represent our sunglasses are either endangered or critically endangered as per the endangered species list from the WWF (World Wildlife Federation). Below we've outlined a bit more information about each of the chosen endangered species however if you would like to see the full list you can do so here.
The Sumatran orangutan is almost exclusively arboreal, living among the trees of tropical rainforests. Females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males do so rarely. Sumatran orangutans are reported to have closer social ties than their Bornean cousins. This has been attributed to mass fruit on fig trees, where groups of Sumatran orangutans can come together to feed. Adult males are typically solitary while females are accompanied by offspring.
Historically, the Sumatran orangutan was distributed over the entire island of Sumatra and further south into Java. The species' range is now restricted to the north of the island with a majority in the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh. Of the nine existing populations of Sumatran orangutans, only seven have prospects of long-term viability, each with an estimated 250 or more individuals. Only three populations contain more than 1,000 orangutans. Orangutans that were confiscated from the illegal trade or as pets are being reintroduced to Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. They number around 70 and are reproducing.
Why They Matter
Orangutans are frugivores and play a vital role in the dispersal of seeds over a huge area. If orangutans were to disappear, so would several tree species, especially those with larger seeds.
The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies with fewer than 2,500 left in the wild. The creation of India’s tiger reserves in the 1970s helped to stabilize numbers, but poaching to meet a growing demand from Asia in recent years has once again put the Bengal tiger at risk. The mangroves of the Sundarbans—shared between Bangladesh and India—are the only mangrove forests where tigers are found. The Sundarbans are increasingly threatened by sea level rise as a result of climate change.
Why They Matter
This tiger subspecies is at the top of the food chain in the wild. But tigers are also a vital link in maintaining the rich diversity of nature. When tigers are protected, we save so much more. For example, with just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health.
Vaquita, the world’s most rare marine mammal, is on the edge of extinction. This little porpoise wasn't discovered until 1958 and a little over half a century later, we are on the brink of losing them forever. Vaquita are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas within Mexico's Gulf of California. More than half of the population has been lost in the last three years.
The vaquita has a large dark ring around its eyes and dark patches on its lips that form a thin line from the mouth to the pectoral fins. Its dorsal surface is dark gray, sides pale gray and ventral surface white with long, light gray markings. Newborn vaquita have darker coloration and a wide gray fringe of color that runs from the head to the dorsal flukes, passing through the dorsal and pectoral fins. They are most often found close to shore in the Gulf's shallow waters, although they quickly swim away if a boat approaches.
Why They Matter
The vaquita is the most endangered cetacean in the world. With likely fewer than 100 left, the species will become extinct without a fully enforced gillnet ban throughout their entire range. WWF urgently working to ensure they can live and thrive in their natural habitat.
People usually think of leopards in the savannas of Africa but in the Russian Far East, a rare subspecies has adapted to life in the temperate forests that make up the northern-most part of the species’ range. Similar to other leopards, the Amur leopard can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. This incredible animal has been reported to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically.
The Amur leopard is solitary. Nimble-footed and strong, it carries and hides unfinished kills so that they are not taken by other predators. It has been reported that some males stay with females after mating, and may even help with rearing the young. Several males sometimes follow and fight over a female. They live for 10-15 years, and in captivity up to 20 years. The Amur leopard is also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard.
Why They Matter
The Amur leopard is important ecologically, economically and culturally. Conservation of its habitat benefits other species, including Amur tigers and prey species like deer. With the right conservation efforts, we can bring them back and ensure long-term conservation of the region.
Hawksbills are named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These colored and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as "tortoiseshell" in markets.
Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world's tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.
Why They Matter
Hawksbills help maintain the health of coral reefs. As they remove prey such as sponges from the reef's surface, they provide better access for reef fish to feed. They also have cultural significance and tourism value. For example, for local residents in the Coral Triangle, the flow of visitors who come to admire turtles is a vital source of income.
The saola was discovered in May 1992 during a joint survey carried out by the Ministry of Forestry of Vietnam and WWF in north-central Vietnam. The team found a skull with unusual long, straight horns in a hunter's home and knew it was something extraordinary. The find proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and one of the most spectacular zoological discoveries of the 20th century.
Saola (pronounced: sow-la) are recognized by two parallel horns with sharp ends, which can reach 20 inches in length and are found on both males and females. Meaning “spindle horns” in Vietnamese, they are a cousin of cattle but resemble an antelope. Saola have striking white markings on the face and large maxillary glands on the muzzle, which could be used to mark territory or attract mates. They are found only in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos.
Why They Matter
The actual size of the remaining population is unknown. Its rarity, distinctiveness and vulnerability make it one of the greatest priorities for conservation in the region. The current population is thought to be a few hundred at a maximum and possibly only a few dozen at a minimum.
Bonobos and chimpanzees look very similar and both share 98.7% of their DNA with humans—making the two species our closest living relatives. Bonobos are usually a bit smaller, leaner and darker than chimpanzees. Their society is also different—bonobo groups tend to be more peaceful and are led by females. They also maintain relationships and settle conflicts through sex. However, bonobo life isn’t entirely violence free; if two groups of bonobos come together, they may engage in serious fighting.
Wild bonobos can only be found in forests south of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sometimes known as the pygmy chimpanzee, bonobos weren’t recognized as a separate species until 1929. As the last great ape to be scientifically described, much remains unknown about the bonobo—including the extent of its geographic range. Efforts to survey the species over the past two decades have been hampered by the remote nature of its habitat, the patchiness of their distribution and years of civil unrest within the DRC.
Civil unrest and increasing poverty in the area around the bonobos’ forests have contributed to bonobo poaching and deforestation. Though the size of the bonobo population is largely unknown, it has likely been declining for the last 30 years. Scientists believe that the decline will continue for the next 45 to 55 years due to the bonobo’s low reproductive rate and growing threats.
European hunters are responsible for the early decline of black rhino populations. It was not uncommon for five or six rhinos to be killed in a day for food or simply for amusement. European settlers that arrived in Africa in the early 20th century to colonize and establish farms and plantations continued this senseless slaughter. Most people regarded rhinos as vermin and exterminated them at all costs.
“DOOMED.” That was the front page headline of the UK newspaper, the Daily Mirror, in 1961, accompanied by a full-page photo of two African rhinos. The article said that rhinos were “doomed to disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s folly, greed, neglect” and encouraged readers to support a new conservation organization: WWF. We’ve been fighting to protect African rhinos ever since. Recent success in black rhino conservation is heartening, but a lot of work remains to bring the population up to even a fraction of what it once was – and ensure that it stays there.
Why They Matter
Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals, virtually living fossils. They play an important role in their habitats and in countries like Namibia, rhinos are an important source of income from ecotourism. The protection of black rhinos creates large blocks of land for conservation purposes. This benefits many other species, including elephants.
These solitary, primarily nocturnal animals, are easily recognized by their full armor of scales. A startled pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator. If touched or grabbed it will roll up completely into a ball, while the sharp scales on the tail can be used to lash out.
Also called scaly anteaters because of their preferred diet, pangolins are increasingly victims of illegal wildlife crime—mainly in Asia and in growing amounts in Africa—for their meat and scales.
Eight species of pangolins are found on two continents. They range from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered.
Four species live in Africa: Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and Temminck's Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii).
The four species found in Asia: Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
All eight pangolin species are protected under national and international laws, and two are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Why They Matter
Pangolins are sometimes mistaken as reptiles, but they are actually scaly-skinned mammals. When in danger, the pangolin can roll into a ball, exposing only the tough scales for protection. Little is known about this elusive creature, so it’s difficult to estimate wild population sizes. But given the demand for pangolin meat and scales, the population is believed to be in decline.
Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Walt Disney himself couldn't have crafted a cuter elephant. The pygmy elephants of Borneo are baby-faced with oversized ears, plump bellies and tails so long they sometimes drag on the ground as they walk. They are also more gentle-natured than their Asian elephant counterparts.
Once believed to be remnants of a domesticated herd given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century, pygmy elephants were determined by WWF to be genetically different from other Asian elephants. DNA evidence proved these elephants were isolated about 300,000 years ago from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatra. Over time, they became smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks. Today, the pygmy elephants of Borneo are the smallest elephants in Asia.
Why They Matter
Borneo’s elephants are a high conservation priority, yet they remain the least-understood elephants in the world.
Yangtze Finless Porpoise
The Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, used to be one of the only two rivers in the world that was home to two different species of dolphin—the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Baiji dolphin. However, in 2006 the Baiji dolphin was declared functionally extinct. This was the first time in history that an entire species of dolphin had been wiped off the planet because of human activity. Its close cousin, the Yangtze finless porpoise, is known for its mischievous smile and has a level of intelligence comparable to that of a gorilla.
Finless porpoises need an abundant food supply for survival. The destruction of the Baiji dolphin food supply was central to its extinction. Overfishing is the main factor that contributes to the decrease in finless porpoises’ food supply, but pollution and ship movement are factors as well.
Javan rhinos are the most threatened of the five rhino species, with as few as 35 individuals surviving in Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was poached in 2010. The Javan rhino is a dusky grey color and has a single horn of up to about 10 inches. Their skin has a number of loose folds giving the appearance of armor plating. This species is very similar in appearance to the closely-related greater-one rhinoceros, but has a much smaller head and less apparent skin folds.
Why They Matter
The population in Ujung Kulon National Park represents the only hope for the survival of a species that is on the brink of extinction. Until the late 19th century and early 20th century, Javan rhinos existed from northeast India and the Sunderbans , throughout mainland Southeast Asia, and on the island of Sumatra. If we lose the population in Java, the entire species will disappear.