I have a great interest in wildlife photography and conservation. I have visited and photographed in many countries, such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. While this is truly a travel blog, I do like to focus on wildlife, especially wildlife that is endangered or at risk. The pure beauty of animals in their natural habitat, rivals any resplendent beach or towering mountain. This will be the first part in a series of blogs on the ten most endangered animals in the world, as listed by the World Wildlife Fund.

Endangered animals are a major concern in our world today. With habitats rapidly shrinking due to human development, it is up to us as a global community, to take up the cause and make sure that creatures are protected and given the consideration they deserve. It is only through our collective effort that we can ensure that these animals have a chance to survive and thrive in our environment.

The majestic hawksbill turtle is one of the most endangered species on the planet. It is difficult to estimate their exact numbers, but range from only a few thousand to as many as ten thousand. These turtles live only in tropical waters, such as the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and they are threatened by overexploitation, illegal fishing, and ocean pollution.

The largest nesting populations of hawksbill turtles live in Australia and the Solomon Islands. Around 2,000 turtles nest annually on the northwest coast of Australia and 6,000 to 8,000 nest annually near the Great Barrier Reef. The most significant nesting in the United States happens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each year, about 500 to 1,000 hawksbill nests are laid on Mona Island, Puerto Rico and another 100 to 150 nests on Buck Island Reef National Monument off St. Croix.

Hawksbill turtles are a keystone species and play an important role in maintaining the health of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other habitats. These turtles are easily identifiable due to their sharply pointed beaks, distinctive bony plate-like scales and dramatic coloring. This coloring ranges from brown and yellow to reddish-brown and is accented with beautiful streaks of black, white and yellow. The hawksbill turtle is an omnivore and its diet consists of mollusks, crustaceans, jellyfish, algae, sea urchins and other invertebrates.

Conservation efforts have been implemented in many countries to try to protect them, but more needs to be done in order to ensure that these majestic creatures can survive. Many nations have taken steps to protect the hawksbill turtle and its habitat. Mexico, Belize, and Honduras have all implemented protections for the turtles, including protected nesting areas and regulations against harvesting their eggs.

In the United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service has implemented regulations aimed at protecting the species from being overfished. In addition, many non-profit organizations have been formed with the aim of protecting the hawksbill turtle from illegal harvesting and habitat destruction. In the state of Florida specifically, a protected area was created in the Everglades National Park where hawksbill turtles can nest safely.

In addition, many other countries have created marine protected areas that the turtles can use for feeding and nesting. For example, in Costa Rica, the government has established protected areas and implemented laws to protect the fragile species. Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally friendly and bio diverse countries in the world, so that is little surprise.