9 Species Going Extinct Due to Habitat Destruction & Deforestation

Arial view of deforestation

When an environment is incapable of supporting native species due to factors like deforestation and illegal logging, animal populations lose their habitats. This habitat destruction leads to species’ homes being uprooted, their food supply diminished, population reproduction decreases, and ultimately the animals have nowhere to turn. Because of all these factors, more species are added to the endangered species list every year.

As part of our mission here at Vermont Woods Studios, a portion of our profits is used to conserve forests, plant trees, and save endangered species from going extinct due to habitat destruction.

Here are some of the most iconic animal species being threatened by global deforestation:

1. Orangutans

Two Orangutans playing by Stuart Jansen on Unsplash

Orangutans, coming from the Malay language meaning “man of the forest," share 96.4% of our human genes. Sadly, due to illegal logging, unsustainable forestry habits, forest fires, and palm oil plantations, all species of orangutans are critically endangered. Female orangutans are only able to give birth to one baby every 3-5 years, putting orangutans at an even higher risk to recover from population decline.

2. Sumatran Rhinos


Today, the Sumatran Rhino can only be found in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Since Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 85% of the world’s palm oil, their habitat continues to decline due to clear-cutting. With a staggering 80 Sumatran Rhinos left on Earth, it is critical to put our best efforts forward in protecting them. On top of that, because of their extremely low population, it is incredibly difficult to find a mate for reproduction. It has been stated that only two captive females have successfully reproduced in the last 15 years.

3. Chimpanzees


Did you know that humans share about 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, making them our closest cousins? Due to deforestation and poaching, chimpanzees have already disappeared from four countries: Gambia, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. In the early 1900s, it was estimated that over 1 million chimpanzees roamed Earth. Today, estimates predict only 172,00-300,000 chimpanzees are left, classifying them as an endangered species.

4. Mountain Gorilla


Did you know, Mountain Gorillas live at elevations between 8,000 to 13,000 feet in the mountainous forests of Rwanda and Uganda? Although Mountain Gorillas have thick fur to protect them from below-freezing temperatures, they can only stay at high elevation climates for short periods of time. Due to new infrastructure and buildings by humans, Mountain Gorillas have been forced to live in even higher elevations for longer periods of time, sometimes in deadly conditions.

5. Giant Panda


Pandas need access to bamboo for survival. Did you know, Panda’s need to eat 24 to 84 pounds of bamboo per day? With the increasing loss of forests in southwest China, Pandas have difficulties finding new bamboo sources and potential mates to help repopulate their species.

6. Pygmy Sloth


Out of the six species of currently living sloths, the Pygmy Sloth is the only one on the critically endangered list. However, the other five species are threatened due to habitat loss as deforestation increases within the Amazon rainforest. Why does this matter? Sloths are extremely dependent on the health of trees, as they solely rely on them for shelter and food. Without an abundance of trees, sloths' shelter and food sources are deeply threatened. Did you know that sloths only come down from trees once a week to go to the bathroom?

7. Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies

The monarch butterfly spends its winters in Mexico and its summers in Canada and the United States, including Vermont. However, as cities in Mexico grow larger, the monarch butterfly habitat is increasingly at risk due to the clear-cutting of forests. On the other hand, the impact of herbicide use on the milkweed plant (monarch butterflies’ primary food source) in the United States is making it extremely difficult for them to survive. A recent study hosted in Mexico, indicated a 53% population decrease since the previous season.

8. Bornean Pygmy Elephant


The Bornean Pygmy Elephant is the smallest size elephant out of the Asian elephant subspecies, with approximately 1,500 remaining in Borneo. Due to the significant expansion of palm oil plantations, their habitat is under constant distress. Although they are the smallest size elephant out of the group, they still need a sufficient amount of land to find food. With the forest size continually shrinking, it makes it increasingly difficult to find adequate food sources and shelter.

9. Big Cats

Big Cats

Many species of big cats are critically endangered, including lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards. These animals are severely impacted by deforestation in tropical areas, as well as big game hunting.

Why are clear-cutting and illegal logging still happening? Clear-cutting is becoming increasingly popular due to our consumption habits of furniture, meat, and palm oil, amongst other things.

How can you help out? By educating yourself on where your products are coming from. Taking the extra step to research a company and their sustainable practices. By doing so, we can all play a role in lessening the negative effects of deforestation that lead to species extinction.

At Vermont Woods Studio, standing up against illegal logging and deforestation is written into our DNA. That’s why we source our wood locally in New England. We believe by raising awareness and providing an environmentally sustainable alternative for wood furniture, we hope to do our part to preserve and protect one of our planet’s most valuable resources.

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Marina McCoy

Marina McCoy is a Zero Waste & Recycling Expert and Founder/CEO of Waste Free Earth. Waste Free Earth is on a mission to reinvent how society produces and consumes waste through education, engagement, and empowerment. They are changing the current business culture to one that prioritizes zero waste systems over single-use landfill items. Personally, Marina has been living zero waste for the past six years and loves sharing her enthusiasm for waste reduction with anyone willing to learn.

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