The Alligator Species That's On The Brink Of Extinction

There are 24 species of the order of crocodillian currently alive, most of which can be found within tropical and subtropical regions. In the Americas and the Caribbean alone there are six species of caiman and two of the world's 14 crocodile species (via World Atlas). Yet there is only one species of alligator in this region, the American Alligator. This animal is far from endangered (unlike the Cuban and American Crocodiles, the latter of which coexists with alligators in Florida) at over 1 million individuals, and is closely related to the caimans of South America (via Crocodiles of the World). 

Regarding other members of its order though, it has been genetically isolated for millions of years. It is not completely alone in the world, however, as across the Pacific there is in fact one other species, the Chinese Alligator. Unlike its American counterpart, this alligator is under extreme threat of extinction in the wild, with a natural population of only a few hundred scattered individuals (via WCS China).

Though almost ecologically extinct, captive breeding has been successful

The Chinese Alligator is not a particularly large member of its genus, with an average length of around 5 feet (via Smithsonian). The species was relatively prosperous living in China's subtropical wetlands until the 1950s, after which their population was almost wiped out in just four decades.  The cause of their decline is unfortunately not a unique one for many animals both across the world and within China (via Endangered List). Much of their native habitat was converted to agricultural land to support China's growing population, while the alligators themselves were often killed for food and as potential threats to farmers. 

In an effort to reverse the damage, conservation groups within China have made surprising progress in affording the animal a new lease on life. Breeding programs have brought the total number in the wild from 100+ in the early 2000s to around 300, though this is still low and may remain so without substantial environmental restoration. However, Chinese Alligators in captivity are a completely different story, as according to officials an astonishing 20,000 have been bred and are currently housed in various facilities (via CGTN).