Sloths are some of the most iconic animals in the entire world thanks to their famously lazy nature and their slow movements.
There is something very relatable about their relaxed nature, so it is no real surprise that they have become really popular all across the world.
It doesn’t help that they are also totally adorable, and are a pleasure to witness in person whether at a zoo or in the wild.
However, the increased awareness of sloths has naturally led many to question whether the species is considered to be endangered and whether there are any efforts in place to help protect their numbers.
Have you found yourself fretting over the conservation status of sloths lately? Want to know whether they are at risk of going extinct?
Then make sure to read on down below, because we are going to take a deep look to find out if sloths are endangered or not.
Are Sloths Endangered?
As a whole, the general sloth species is not currently endangered(see also: 5 Endangered Species Most Affected By Poaching). Of all of the various species of sloth found across the world, only six have special conservation status.
Four sloth species are currently listed as being of the least concern on the red list of endangered species.
This means that efforts are being made to ensure that population numbers remain healthy, but fewer resources are pooled towards them as there is a lower risk of the species becoming endangered.
Another species of sloth, the maned three-toed sloth is currently listed as being vulnerable.
This means that the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, and thus greater efforts need to be made in order to help the species to survive into the future.
This often means creating safe enclosures for the species outside of the wild so that they can be monitored and their numbers can be increased again.
One species of sloth is currently considered to be critically endangered. The pygmy three-toed sloth is at a high risk of extinction, and this has been evidenced by the fact that there are very low numbers of them to be found in the wild.
Of course, this means that significant efforts have to be made to conserve the species in the future.
Species on the critically endangered species list have very low numbers, and thus need their numbers to be increased. Towards this end, conservation efforts will seek to protect what numbers remain to help them to repopulate.
Are Any Species Of Sloth Extinct?
A few species of sloth have unfortunately found themselves becoming extinct.
One of the most well-known cases of a sloth species becoming extinct was that of the marine sloth population. Marine sloths once commonly populated the Pacific Coast of South America.
This species was very slowly killed off as coastal waters began to cool, which caused seagrass in the area to be killed off.
This, of course, cut off the marine sloth’s main food source, leading to the slow decline of the marine sloth population.
Ground sloths once largely populated the wilds of North and South America, long before the arrival of humans on the land.
This was around 11,000 years ago. The creatures were once hunted and eaten by our earliest ancestors, and this is believed to have led to the slow decline of the population, before the eventual outright extinction.
Studying the remains of ground sloths that were found across America further proves that they were once killed and eaten for food.
It is also suggested that the end of the ice age may also have led to the decline of ground sloths. This is a result of the changes in the climate that would have occurred in the wake of the ice age.
Megalocnus sloths were commonly found around the Caribbean, and they became extinct more than 5,000 years ago.
This is actually much longer after the extinction of ground sloths, but the reason for this was that it took much longer for America’s colonizers to expand all the way to the Antilles.
Once human expansion reached the Antilles, the local Megalocnus populations would have been driven away or hunted as a food source.
How Can We Help To Protect Sloth Populations?
One of the best ways that we can help sloth populations to thrive well into the future is by educating others about the importance of the species, as well as the importance of animal conservation.
The more people that know about animal conservation, the greater a push there will be for conservation efforts to take place.
Greater awareness of conservation will also make individuals more mindful of how they interact with the environment, making them more likely to recycle and to make proper use of materials.
Volunteering is also a great way to help protect sloth populations, as you can get directly involved with helping to preserve their environment, which in turn helps to protect the species’ numbers.
Volunteering efforts also allow you to get directly involved and see a little more of the world around you while meeting a bunch of like-minded people that share similar sets of values to you!
To Wrap Up
As we can now plainly see, the entire sloth species is not yet considered to be endangered, but numerous subspecies of sloth are considered to be endangered.
As such, it is important to protect those subspecies, as history has shown that ancient sloth species have gone extinct as a direct result of human expansion into wildlife areas.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can get involved and help to protect sloth populations, whether by educating those around you or even heading further afield to help with volunteer efforts that seek to protect sloth population numbers.
Protecting sloth populations is important not only because they are incredibly iconic and adorable animals, but also because they play a vital role in keeping the ecosystem of the world healthy and operating at its best.