25 Endangered Animals that are on the Brink of Extinction
Our world is changing rapidly – in terms of climate, social scenario, the population of species, and so on. There are thousands of animals that are endangered amid changing climate and habitat loss. Over 37,400 species are listed as threatened with extinction in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Scientists at the IUCN use four different categories to measure exactly how close a species is to extinction including vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild. Unfortunately, there are 134,400 species on that list, slated to face extinction sooner or later.
Every day, species around the globe are edging toward extinction. For each species that goes extinct, many more become and remain endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, human activities, and climate change.
Here are 25 endangered animals that are on the brink of extinction and need our help to save them.
Steller Sea Lion
Also known as the Northern Sea Lion, the Stellar sea lion is a near-threatened species in the northern Pacific. The species has attracted significant attention in recent years, owing to considerable and largely unexplained declines in their population.
While the Eastern US population of Stellar Sea Lions has been growing, the Western US population has declined rapidly over the years. Boat strikes and pollution are big factors for this decline, critical habitat and protective zones have been set up for these sea lions.
The Amur Leopard is native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and northern China. The species is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
According to the WWF, there are less than 100 Amur leopards left in the wild and some 180 in captivity. In 2007, only 19-26 wild leopards were estimated to survive in southeastern Russia and northeastern China.
It was considered one of the rarest cats on the planet. The animal is threatened by poaching, poaching of prey species, habitat loss, deforestation, or forest exploitation.
Orangutans are native to the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Currently, found only in parts of Borneo and Sumatra, however, they ranged throughout Southeast Asia and South China during the Pleistocene age.
All three orangutan species are considered critically endangered after years of decline through anthropogenic activities, poaching, habitat destruction due to palm oil cultivation, and illegal pet trade.
These intelligent primates are on the verge of extinction because humans care about only themselves, but it is crucial to conserve these endangered species for the ecological balance.
Rhinoceros are members of any of the five extant species – two of which are native to Africa, and three to Southern Asia. The IUCN Red List identifies the black, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceros as critically endangered.
Only 80 Sumatran rhinos are left in the wild, while only 72 Javan rhinos are left. There are between 5,366 and 5,627 black rhinos are left in the wild.
The black rhinoceros is a subspecies of rhinoceros, native to eastern and southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Similar to the orangutan, all species and subspecies of gorillas are facing the threat of extinction. Despite having a population as high as 200,000 individuals, Gorillas are some of the most endangered apes in the world. Both the Eastern and Western Gorillas are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
Poaching, habitat destruction, and disease are a few of the threats to the survival of the species. Mountain gorillas are the most severely endangered, with an estimated population of about 880 left in the wild and none in zoos.
The saola is one of the world’s rarest large mammals, a forest-dwelling bovine found only in the Annamite Range of Vietnam and Laos. Known by some as the “Asian Unicorn,” saola is currently considered to be critically endangered.
Its restrictive habitat requirements and aversion to human proximity are likely to endanger it through habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Local hunting and the illegal trade in furs, traditional medicines and for use of meat in restaurants and food market are major threats to the species.
These beautiful creatures attracted much attention after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The scale-covered animals are under serious threat by traffickers who consider their meat a delicacy and their scales to be an essential ingredient in traditional medicine in much of Asia.
Two of the eight species, found throughout Asia and Africa, are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. As of January 2020, the IUCN considered all eight species of pangolin as threatened.
The black-crested gibbon is an endangered species of gibbon inhabiting regions of China, Laos and northern Vietnam, with four subspecies. Cute as a button, these apes have arms about twice the length of their bodies, making it the longest arm-length of all primates.
Unfortunately, the population of gibbons has declined over 80 percent in the last 45 years, mostly due to hunting and habitat loss. An estimated 1,300 to 2,000 individuals remain in the wild.
Since 1996, the IUCN has listed the red wolf as a Critically Endangered species. Inhabiting the Midwest and once found as far west as Texas and south as Florida, its territory has been reduced by an estimated 99.7 percent.
In 2007, the USFWS estimated that 300 red wolves were left in the world, with 207 of those in captivity. By the end of 2020, the number of wild individuals had shrunk to only about 7 radio-collared and a dozen un-collared individuals.
Gerp’s Mouse Lemur
Gerp’s mouse lemur is a species of mouse lemur known only from the Sahafina Forest in eastern Madagascar. Listed as Critically Endangered, the big-eyed rainforest dweller was discovered merely five years ago.
But its fragmented population and habitat loss have led its population to decline. As it is a recently discovered species, little is known about its behavior, ecology and reproduction. The species seems to be restricted to a small region of lowland rainforest and is seriously threatened by forest loss.
The smallest of the raccoon species, Cozumel is found on Mexico’s Cozumel Island. It is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world, as the island’s tourism development has impacted the creature’s habitat and less than 955 are estimated to be left.
As the animal only resides in a small coastal area at the northwest corner of the island, the effects of habitat loss are especially severe. New threats such as diseases and parasites have also emerged in recent years.
Wild Bactrian Camel
The wild Bactrian camel is a critically endangered species of camel living in parts of northeastern China and southwestern Mongolia. These camels have long curved necks, long legs, and dense eyelashes to reduce the damage from sandstorms. Only about 1,000 camels are found to be left.
Most reside on the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in China, and a smaller population lives in the Great Gobi in Mongolia. But droughts and habitat degradation have taken a toll on these animals and caused their population to decline.
Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth
The pygmy three-toed sloth is a sloth endemic to Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small island off the coast of Panama. First identified as a distinct species in 2001, this smallest of all sloths lives among the mangrove patches and has some impressive swimming skills.
A 2012 census of pygmy three-toed sloths estimated the total population at 79. The IUCN has enlisted the pygmy three-toed sloth as critically endangered and they are listed on the world’s 100 most threatened species.
Also known as Hunter’s antelope, the hirola is a critically endangered antelope species found on the border between Kenya and Somalia. The global population of the species is estimated at 300-500 animals and there are none in captivity.
According to the IUCN, “the loss of the hirola would be the first extinction of a mammalian genus on mainland African in modern human history.”
A combination of factors such as disease, hunting, severe drought, predation, competition for food and water from domestic livestock and habitat loss have caused the decline of the hirola population.
This large-antlered muntjac is found in the mountains and hill ranges of Vietnam and eastern Cambodia. Discovered in 1994, locals tend to hunt the animals for their meat, which has contributed to a dangerous drop in their population.
Due to slash-and-burn agriculture, combined with hunting, the giant muntjac is considered critically endangered. It is preyed upon by animals such as tigers and leopards.
The Green Turtle is the largest sea turtle and the only herbivore. The species is threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear, and loss of nesting beach sites.
It ranges throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and in the Indian Ocean as well.
It is listed as endangered and is illegal to collect, harm or kill them. Many turtles die after getting caught in fishing nets and the loss of nesting beaches also poses a threat.
Galapagos penguins are the only penguin species living above the equator, but their changing environment is causing their population to decline, which is less than 2,000.
It is one of the smallest penguin species in the world, but due to environmental factors and predation, its life expectancy has reduced drastically. They are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as endangered, and as of 2018, there are about 1,200 mature penguins left.
The critically endangered subspecies of the Asian elephant is declining in population owing to shrinking habitat and ivory poachers. Their population has come down to 2,000 individuals.
Native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the species was upgraded from endangered to critically endangered in 2011. The subspecies is facing threats from habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and poaching.
The gharial crocodile is a critically endangered species, with less than 300 estimated to be in existence. The species is believed to have declined as much as 98 percent over three generations from 1946 to 2006.
Once its range spanned rivers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, only fragmented populations remain in Nepal and northern India. Killed by fishermen, hunted for skins, trophies and indigenous medicine, its populations declined.
Once ranging across sub-Saharan Africa, the population of this antelope-like animal has declined to a single population in the deserts of Niger. Estimates put current addax individuals at 30.
Due to its slow movements, the species is an easy target for its predators such as humans, lions and other big cats. It has been listed as a critically endangered species of antelope, owing to unregulated hunting.
The vaquita is a species of porpoise that thrives in the northern end of the Gulf of California in Baja California, Mexico. Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, it is the smallest of all living crustaceans and is currently on the brink of extinction.
Given the continued rate of bycatch and low reproductive output from a small population, there are as few as 10 vaquitas left in the wild. Fishing nets, chlorinated pesticides, irrigation and inbreeding are among the major threats to the species.
Once ranging from the Eastern Anatolia Region in the west of the Amur River basin in the east and in the south from the foothills of the Himalayas to Bali in the Sunda Islands, tiger populations have lost 93 percent of their historic habitat range.
Listed as Endangered, the global wild tiger population was estimated between 3,000 to 3,900 mature individuals, in 2019. Three out of five subspecies have gone extinct in the 20th century.
With pressures like habitat destruction, fragmentation and human-animal conflicts, the species is facing existential threats.
The Asian elephant is the largest living land animal in Asia, which had been listed as Endangered since 1986. The population of the species has declined by at least 50 percent in the past 60-70 years.
Habitat loss, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching are the major threats that have contributed to decline in animal populace.
In 1029, the wild population was estimated between 48,000 to 51,000 individuals.
The Irrawaddy Dolphin has been classified as Endangered as the marine species has less than 100 individuals left. These playful-looking animals can be found in South Asia – in the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar, the Mahakam River in Indonesian Borneo and in the Mekong.
The dolphin lives in brackish waters, which makes them susceptible to human conflict more often than other dolphin species that live farther out the ocean. Overfishing, gold mining and dam building are among the major threats to this marine species.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Native to the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the Bluefin tuna is very hard to track. The numbers of this fish have plummeted over the past four decades globally, putting the species in endangered category on the IUCN Red List.
Apparently, a 72 percent decrease in the eastern Atlantic and an 82 percent decrease in the west has been recorded. Overfishing is the main cause for the destruction of the species that is heavily targeted for the Japanese fish market.