In 2012, nearly $1 billion was donated in the name of environmental preservation to just three charities: The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy. Where does this money go?
Most, according to National Geographic, goes toward protecting a handful of our favorite animals -- apes, elephants, big cats, black rhinos and giant pandas hold the top five spots. Public opinion of these creatures is highly positive, but also highly biased.
Some argue, for example, that giant pandas are a colossal waste of our time. No matter how fuzzy, if they don't want to be saved -- and it doesn't seem like they do -- well, "Darwinism isn't for crybabies," writes Timothy Lavin. (On the other hand, maybe we should feel a little guilty for destroying the diverse habitat that sustains numerous other plant and animal species, too.)
Although there are mathematical models that could be used to determine return on investment in any particular species, at the end of the day "what we decide to save really is very arbitrary -- it's much more often done for emotional or psychological or national reasons," The Nature Conservatory's M. Sanjayan told National Geographic.
Here's a quick snapshot of some less popular endangered species that may not be around much longer if we don't start paying attention.