The Endangered Species Act is more than 40 years old, which begs the question: Where are they now? “They” being the thousands of threatened plant and animal species that are protected under the landmark legislation.
Maintaining biodiversity is no easy feat, but many species have rebounded since the act’s inception in 1973. So far, 59 species have been delisted, 20 of which are considered true success stories. But others haven’t been so lucky. An animal can be taken off the list if it is no longer threatened or if it goes extinct. Today, more than 1,400 plants and animals remain endangered or threatened.
Noteworthy feats include the recent removal of the first fish—the Oregon chub—from the list, and the lynx, whose population has recovered since it was originally protected. Other animals are still battling to increase populations or have disappeared entirely.
Although natural factors can be blamed for the decline of some species, habitat loss and human interference are largely at fault. Click through to see some of the animals originally protected under the ESA to learn about the ongoing efforts—some successful, some not—to protect different species.