Flora, fauna, and animal species exclusive to a particular geographical location are known as endemic species. Exotic species can be found in minor or significant locations around the globe.

Some of these are unique to a specific continent; others are confined to one particular landmass region, and somehow a few of them are native to a particular island.

Endemic species are essential because they live in environments limited to a specific location due to changing climate, urbanization, or other factors.

Because endemic species are frequently threatened, it is critical to protect them. Typically, the habitat of such plants and animals is isolated, making it challenging for the species to expand over diverse locations.

For instance, 90 percent of preexisting species on the Hawaiian Islands in Australia and the southernmost region of Africa are unique to the location.

Perhaps the organism is local means that it lives in a region unaffected by humans. When an organism is native, one can only encounter it in a particular area or its immediate surroundings.

Several endemic species are vulnerable to extinction when a new virus or disease emerges and compromise natural habitat integrity.

The same is true when an invasive species penetrate the territory and presents itself as a rival or threat. As a result, the endemic population suffers due to their incapacity to migrate into new environments.

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Attributes of Endemic Species  

There are two particular characteristics when it comes to endemic species.

1. Bound to their surroundings

Every species is uniquely habituated to its surroundings. As a result, organisms are frequently confined to limited geographic locations and specific environmental circumstances.

Gender, as a broad category, is frequently endemic in more prominent areas. Families and tribes, on the other hand, appear to have a far wider spread, almost to the extent of continents.

2. Vulnerable

Since endemic species have restricted species distributions by nature, they could be particularly susceptible to human encroachment and environmental degradation.

Because islands frequently lack significant enemies as several endemic islands emerged lacking predator adaptations, island populations are particularly susceptible.

Several indigenous species in a few small islands have been devastated by cats, dogs, and other predators transported by sailors. 

Different Types of Endemism

Endemism is frequently discussed at the basic taxonomic levels of gender and species. And, endangered floras and faunas might develop in one of two ways. 

1. Autochthonous

Some species evolve in a specific location, acclimatize to the surrounding ecology, and exist inside the confines of that area. This sort of endemism is referred to as “autochthonous,” or indigenous to where it is prevalent.

2. Allochthonous

An endemic “allochthonous” species, on the other hand, is one that evolved somewhere else but has outgrown much of its original geographic distribution.

For instance, the redwood from California, which once spanned North America and Eurasia thousands of years ago, only thrives in scattered areas near the coast of northern California at present.

List of Endemic Species

Below you will discover a list of ten Endemic species found in specific parts of the world. Some of them are thriving; however, a few of these are endangered. And sadly, due to their nature and habitat, they are always at a significant threat of extinction. 

1. Javan Rhinos

Javan Rhino - Endemic Species
Javan Rhino, Indonesia (source)

Location: Indonesia

Once the world’s extremely common Asian rhinoceroses, Javan rhinoceroses have been reduced to nearly extinct.

As of 2021, the overall population left is anticipated to be around 60 protected in Ujung Kulon National Park. Trophy hunters prize the mammals’ horns and use them to make medical items.

Sickness and health issues caused by inbreeding threaten the future of Javan rhinos. Rhinos normally do poorly in captivity, and Javan rhinos have done significantly worse; the last captive Javan rhino perished in an Australian zoo in 1907.

2. Haast tokoeka kiwi 

kiwi - endemic species
Haast tokoeka kiwi (source)

Location: New Zealand

The Haast tokoeka kiwi is a stunning, one-of-a-kind avian species found in Haast, New Zealand. In 1993, this kiwi was designated as a separate species.

With only 400 confirmed survivors, it is determined “threatened nationally critical” in New Zealand. Most Haast tokoeka kiwis dwell in the Haast Kiwi Sanctuary, where carnivores such as possums are kept at bay, encouraging the species to expand.

3. Galápagos Tortoises

Galapagos tortoise - endemic species
Close up of Galapagos tortoises (source)

Location: Ecuador

Galápagos tortoises are the world’s most enormous surviving tortoises, weighing over 650 pounds and reaching lengths of extraordinary 4 feet.

This long-lived animal, which is endemic to the seven islands of the Galápagos archipelago, could survive and thrive for up to 150 years.

Galápagos tortoises have been staging a remarkable population recovery in the past few years owing to the construction of the Galápagos National Park and an outstanding controlled breeding program. Not to forget that they were highly endangered for a long time due to illegal hunting. 

4. Mexican Wolf

The Mexican wolves. Copyright: Only in El Paso

Location: Mexico

The Mexican wolf initially resided in southeastern Arizona, western Texas, and northern Mexico as a subpopulation of the gray wolf.

It is the smallest in size out of all North America’s gray wolves, and the progenitors were likely the very first gray wolves to cross the borders of this country when the Beringia wolf disappeared.

5. Santa Cruz Kangaroo Rat

kangaroo rat - endemic species
Santa Cruz Kangaroo rat (source)

Location: California, United States

The substantial back limbs of the Santa Cruz kangaroo rat give it the catchy title. This unusual mammal used to be abundant in the highlands south of San Francisco, but now it is restricted to a specific location in the Santa Cruz Sandhills.

The Santa Cruz variation of the kangaroo rat is one of 23 subspecies identified in California. Due to falling numbers and health issues caused by low genetic variation, it is on the verge of disappearance.

Their extinction might be a setback to the Santa Cruz Mountains, as the Santa Cruz kangaroo rat is a primary organism that supports a wide range of other organisms. And its extinction would have far-reaching consequences for the entire food chain. 

6. Hawaiian Honeycreeper

honeycreepers - endemic species
Hawaiian Honeycreepers, a beautiful bird on the verge of extinction (source)

Location: Hawai, United States 

Honeycreepers are indigenous to Hawaii. They are magnificent songbirds with unique beaks that explore wildflowers for syrup and have a specific preference for honeycreeper flowers.

Collectors, illness, habitat destruction, interference from invading species, and assault by human-introduced species like rats, cats, and dogs have all contributed to their loss.

At present, honeycreepers are being protected by eliminating avian flu-carrying mosquitoes, preserving their ecosystem, and eliminating predator species.

7. Palm of Guadalupe 

The palm of Guadalupe info. Copyright: San Diego Botanic Garden

Location: Mexico

The Palm of Guadalupe or Brahea edulis is a flowering plant. Although it is alleged that it has been cultivated in other areas, it is an endemic palm of the island of Guadalupe. It is a variety of fan palms that can grow up to 13 meters tall.

They are found between 400 and 1000 meters above sea level, and the overall local population is made up of mature trees that haven’t had much success in the last 150 years due to human activities.

Previously, Guadalupe Island had a significant community of goats. The prevalence of these goats hindered the regeneration of these native trees, resulting in a substantial change in the ecology.

8. Freshwater Philippine Crocodile

crocodile - endemic species
Freshwater Philippine crocodile (source)

Location: Philippines

Only the Philippines waters are home to this freshwater crocodile. Compared to other crocodiles, it is a little one, measuring no more than 10 feet long.

The Philippine crocodile, conserved since 2001, is threatened due to its skin. Conflicts for space with humans and entrapment in fishing lines are two significant risks to this severely endangered species. Only about 100 Philippine crocodiles are known to exist in the natural environment.

9. Flat-Head Myotis

bat - endemic species
Flat-head Myotis bat (source)

Location: Mexico

The flat-head Myotis bat is only found in Mexico and is one of the tiniest on the planet. It reaches a maximum length of 51 to 76 millimeters and weighs about 7 grams.

The fuzz on the ears is absent, and the face is unadorned. No wonder it is a challenging species to spot. It was assumed to be extinct until 2004, when researchers reported additional occurrences.

Its distribution is limited to a tiny region in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountainous region in its northeast, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Zacatecas.

It is restricted to highland rainforests with Yucca and pine pinion because it has unique habitat needs.

10. Axolotl

Axolotls - endemic species
Axolotls (source)

Location: Mexico

Axolotls are amphibious creatures in nature who spend their entire lives submerged in water. They only occur in nature in one location: artificial waterways, freshwater ponds, and temporary wetlands to deliver water to Mexico City.

Axolotls are unique amongst all amphibians. They do not experience metamorphosis after entering maturity. Hence, mature axolotls maintain their gills and stay in the water rather than acquiring lungs and finishing their lives on land.

Since 2010, wild axolotls have been threatened with extinction due to rapid urbanization and subsequent water pollution, and the arrival of invasive animals such as tilapia and perch.

To Wrap Up

Certain endemic species from various places can provide “collective insurance” for phenotypic variation amid the crucial shifts in nature.

Still, others are more vulnerable to extinction as society evolves and habit destruction prevails. Endemic species are critical for the ecological conservation of numerous species and the entire ecosystem. 

Hence, it is essential to focus on protecting these species to maintain the ecological balance on earth. Not only endemic ones, but there are also several exotic, ugly-looking, and hibernating animals that need special care from us.

(Last Updated on December 6, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!