Play TakePart’s ‘Rare & Ready to Be Saved,' and Help Endangered Animals

Join us as we showcase 16 imperiled critters and raise money to protect them. Vote for your favorite, and pledge to help ensure its protection.
Mar 22, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

It’s election season—for endangered animals.

Sixteen candidates are competing in “Rare & Ready to Be Saved,” TakePart’s annual bracket game aimed at having a bit of spirited fun while calling attention to the plight of some of the planet’s most imperiled animals.

Starting today, March 21, and running through April 5, you can vote every day, once a day, in the contest, which features the work of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Yes, it’s sport. And yes, after four rounds of balloting, an iconic king of the jungle—or sultan of the sea or sovereign of the sky—will emerge victorious. But the truth is that every animal in the game is a winner. TakePart, in its sole discretion, will donate $1 to the Endangered Species Coalition, up to $5,000, for every 10 votes received. The nonprofit will, in turn, use the funds to safeguard endangered species and their habitats.

If past is prologue—the Sumatran tiger won the 2014 "Rare & Ready" contest, while the gray wolf loped to a surprising victory last year—the 2016 affair will be a dogfight (so to speak). Each of the four themed regions is chockablock with possibilities. Which pre-tournament favorite will go one and done? Will a Cinderella emerge to bust the bracket and make a run to the winner's circle?

For the “Water-Dwelling Wonder” region there are the Southern Resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale, and the Chinese giant salamander. They face off against the too-cute Hawaiian monk seal.

In the “Terrifically Tiny” region, the Chinese pangolin takes on the kakapo, the Tasmanian devil, and the bog turtle.

The third region, “Tree Toppers,” is a genuine toss-up. Any of its four contestants—the koala, the Sumatran orangutan, the pygmy three-toed sloth, and the black-and-white ruffled lemur—appears to have a good shot at advancing. Earlier in March a study found that the orangutan’s population is two times higher than previously thought, though forest loss and poaching remain serious threats.

The last region, “Majestically Mighty,” features two titanic matchups worthy of a championship game: the California condor versus the red wolf and the Javan rhinoceros versus the Malayan tiger. Good luck forecasting a victor from this fearsome foursome.

While each of the contestants is imperiled, the red wolf has been dealt a serious setback recently.

The red wolf’s wild population has dropped to just 50 to 75 individuals in eastern North Carolina. The animals can still be shot under depredation permits, and earlier in March a 13-person panel convened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service adjourned without coming to a consensus on the agency’s Red Wolf Recovery Program.

Translation: Perhaps now more than at any point since it was placed on the endangered species list in 1967, the red wolf needs your help.

Make no mistake: Every little bit counts. So do the red wolf—and every other scarce and threatened animal out there—a solid and sign up for “Rare & Ready to Be Saved.”

After that, there’s one concluding, mission-critical step: Share your votes on social media. Don’t forget—the more people play, the more votes we’ll get, and the more animals you can help save.