The endangered animals are an excellent example of how human occupation damaged the diversity of nature on our planet. Because of anthropogenic action, more than a million species are at risk of extinction, which is apparent in saying that the disappearance of biodiversity is directly related to our actions. Animal trafficking, fires, deforestation, the transformation of wetlands and forests into agricultural and urban areas, pollution, and predatory hunting lead to high numbers of animal extinction.

1. Saola

Saola
Saola | Image Credit – Bill Robichaud
Scientific NamePseudoryx Nghetinhensis
HabitatVietnam, Laos
Current Population250
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByIllegal Hunting and Habitat Loss

Humanity knows about thousands of species, but some animals appeared to people recently. One of the artiodactyls and bovids subspecies was discovered only in 1992 in Vietnam. Since then, little information has been known about the saolas, sometimes referred to as the Asian unicorns.

The saola subspecies are related to bulls, although they don’t look like these large bovids. In length, individuals reach 180 cm and weigh about 100 kg. The saola has thin and long horns: they grow up to 50 cm. The saola habitat, the humid tropical forests of Laos and Vietnam, reaches 8 thousand square meters.

According to rough estimates, the population ranges from several tens to two hundred individuals. More precisely, scientists cannot say because these animals of this rare species lead a secretive lifestyle. Based on genetic analyses, it was only possible to establish that the saola belongs to the bovid family.

The Vietnamese government has passed a law prohibiting hunting and trapping of the saola. The International Red Book has given them the status of a species on the verge of extinction.

The primary rationale for the extinction of the animal is the acts of poachers. People break laws, and healthy artiodactyls are dying. The meat is obtained according to the traditional attitude to hunting. People rarely see the beast; it is difficult to track it down. Therefore, killing a saola is considered an honorable act.

The fragmentation of territories also threatens the species. The usual habitats are disappearing due to the construction of new facilities. Individuals are cut off from each other. Highways and human settlements separate them. Animals are afraid of humans and do not enter populated areas.

2. Javan rhinoceros

Javan rhinoceros
Javan Rhinoceros | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Scientific NameRhinoceros Sondaicus
HabitatUjung-Kulon National Park on the island of Java
Current Population74
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByIllegal Hunting, Disease, Inbreeding and Habitat Loss

Once the Javanese rhino was widespread in Southeast Asia, it is now in the top 10 of the rarest. In appearance, the Javanese rhino is very similar to its close relative – the giant one-horned rhinoceros; however, it is somewhat smaller.

It has a smaller head, and folds on the skin are not so noticeable. Its height at the shoulders is 1.4-1.7 meters. Javanese rhinos are comparable in size to African black rhinos, ranging in weight from 900 to 2300 kg. There is no significant distinction in dimensions between males and females; sometimes, females can be slightly larger.

As of September 2020, the number of animals in the world was 74 individuals; all of them live in the Ujung-Kulon National Park on the island of Java. The people caught the last Javan rhino in Vietnam in 2010. The almost complete disappearance of these large mammals from the face of the Earth is due to such factors as poaching, loss of habitat, diseases, and inbreeding (crossing of closely related forms within the same population). 

Farmers killed them as agricultural pests, and trophy hunters hunted them for their horns, prized in Asian medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, the horn of this animal is highly valued (the cost reaches $ 30 thousand per 1 kg); it has been traded for more than 2 thousand years. 

In addition, the animal suffers from deforestation of arable land. Attempts to keep the Javanese rhino in zoos have been unsuccessful. Today, the population in Ujung Kulon National Park represents the only hope for the species’ survival. If we lose the population of these species in Java, the entire species of these beautiful creatures will disappear.

3. Cross River Gorilla

Cross River Gorilla
Cross River Gorilla | Image Credit – WWF
Scientific NameGorilla Gorilla Diehli
HabitatOn the border between Cameroon and Nigeria
Current Population250
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByIllegal Trade, Deforestation, and Disease

These subspecies of the western gorilla live in subtropical and tropical deciduous forests. River gorillas are more vulnerable than any other African primate. They are distinguished from lowland gorillas by the structure of the teeth and the size of the skull. In 2000, it was singled out as a separate subspecies. 

The populations of the Cross River gorilla are at the limit, and their small habitat disintegrates as the human population advances. There are only 250 individuals left in 9 areas with 12,000 square kilometers between Cameroon and Nigeria, five of which are unprotected without any surveillance or conservation.

The illegal trade in animals, deforestation, or diseases are some of the causes of their possible disappearance. 76% of Cameroon’s forests, its primary habitat, was assigned in 2000 to the timber industry.

Limbe Wildlife Center (LWC) and the Great Ape Project, which has carried out several projects in Cameroon, are making enormous efforts to conserve it. It focuses primarily on education and looking toward ecotourism despite the additional risks to the health of gorilla populations, with the priority focusing on stopping high levels of hunting and loss of habitat.

4. Amur Leopard

Portrait of a male Amur leopard
Portrait of a male Amur leopard | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NamePanthera Pardus Orientalis
HabitatPrimorye (Russia), in China and on the Korean Peninsula
Current Population70
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByIllegal Hunting, Competition for Territory with Siberian Tiger and Disease

Amur leopard is a leopard subspecies and differs from other subspecies due to its thicker, hairier skin and legs. Also, their rosettes (spots present in the fur) are larger and farther apart. The color of its coat in summer is orange, while in winter, it is cream tone, reaching up to 7 centimeters in thickness; males of this species are larger than females and can weigh up to 70 kilos.

The Amur leopard lives in the same area as the Siberian tiger; however, it avoids inhabiting or hunting in areas close to the tiger. There is no competition between the two. A curiosity is that he lives much longer in captivity than in nature.

It may also be known as the Siberian leopard and the Far-Eastern leopard, but its scientific name is Panthera pardus Orientalis. The remaining population of this subspecies lives in Russia, more specifically in the province of Primorsky Krai near the border with China, where there are also a few specimens.

According to the classification of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the Amur leopard is in the CE category. Despite these dismal numbers, the last time the WWF (in Portuguese, World Wide Fund for Nature) did a count, 12 specimens of the subspecies were found in an area where there were only seven previously; this shows little development of species.

The factors that cooperate with the extinction of the Amur leopard can range from human beings, such as illegal hunting, to natural ones, such as the simultaneous survival of other disease-carrying animals and the competition for territory with the Siberian tiger. The reduced number of its population alerts scientists to the danger of extinction of these animals. They suffer from illegal hunting and the loss of habitat due to the construction of roads and forest fires.

5. Asiatic Lions

An asiatic lion at bannerghatta biological park
An asiatic lion at bannerghatta biological park | Image Credit – Pixahive

Information

Scientific NamePanthera Leo Persica
HabitatIn the Gir nature reserve, in the north-west of India
Current Population674
Conservation StatusEndangered
Threatened ByHuman Threat and Natural Disaster

Once, the species was distributed over a vast territory from Greece to India. This beast entered into battles with gladiators in the arenas of Roman amphitheaters. Hunters gradually destroyed it. The Asiatic lion is reminiscent of its African relatives, but some brief variations can be cited due to evolutionary divergences. For example, these animals are slightly smaller than the lions of Africa: the males weigh from 160 to 190 kilos, while the females do not exceed 120 kilos.

The height from the shoulders to the ground of an adult specimen is about 110 centimeters, and the maximum body length dated does not exceed 2.95 meters – tail included. Unfortunately, the conservation of this big cat is a sensitive issue. To this day, the Asiatic lion is distributed in a single population and, therefore, is subject to extinction due to any natural disaster in its range of distribution. 

In 1893, there were 18 adult specimens, but thanks to conservation efforts, in 1994, more than 280 reproductive individuals were assessed. In 2020, 674 lions had been calculated in Gir National Park, 29% more than in 2015.

Unfortunately, this population increase is not without its consequences. Currently, up to 1/3 of the lions live outside the protected park area. For this reason, local farmers and ranchers have once again encountered this felid. They are killing specimens again to prevent them from eating their livestock.

6. Okapi

Okapi, Henry Doorly Zoo
Okapi, Henry Doorly Zoo | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NameOkapia johnstoni
Habitatthe Democratic Republic of the Congo
Current Population22,000
Conservation StatusEndangered
Threatened ByMining industry destroying its natural habitat, deforestation, Poaching, and Armed conflict situation

This cloven-hoofed animal seems to be created from several animals: legs are black and white, like a zebra, the size and structure of a horse, and on its forehead, there are two short horns, like a giraffe. It is usually 2.15 meters long and weighs about 250 kg. In the wild, these animals live in dense jungles. This jungle is located in the north of the African country on approximately 244 thousand square kilometers. 

Unlike their giraffe cousins, these animals do not inhabit the Savannah. It is one of the reasons why the evolution of these animals has not made them as tall as giraffes. The ability to move in the jungle to such a high growth would be an evolutionary disadvantage.

Since the okapis are very shy and secretive, they live in a country where a civil war has been on for many years, so there is little information about them. Scientists and researchers took the first picture of the animal only in 2008- 107 years after receiving the animal’s message. And that’s thanks to the camera trap.

Okapis is currently under threat of extinction as its population is declining. After a few years, it may become endangered and disappear after a few decades. The main reasons why Okapi is under threat are the following: The mining industry destroying its natural habitat, deforestation, Poaching, and the Armed conflict situation.

7. Tarsier

Philippine Tarsier
Philippine Tarsier | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NameTarsiidae
HabitatPhilippine island of Bohol
Current Population10,000
Conservation StatusEndangered
Threatened ByDeforestation, Hunting and Stray Cats

Tarsiers are nocturnal animals and spend the day huddled under tree roots or high up on branches. They are the smallest primate. 

Its body measures between 10 and 15 centimeters, between the head and the body. A tail of about eight inches tops it. Its legs have phalanges and nails and are reminiscent of human hands. But the big round eyes are his most striking feature. The tarsier’s eyes are 1.6 centimeters in diameter, and only one is as big as its brain. Despite their size, they cannot move their pupils, so their head is capable of rotating almost 360 degrees in any direction.

Such large organs of vision allow rare animals to see perfectly in the dark. And in 2012, scientists at Dartmouth College discovered that these unusual animals could also send and receive ultrasonic signals. Deforestation of the jungle, hunting, and stray cats threaten the survival of the tarsier. Hidden among the undergrowth that covers the Philippine island of Bohol, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation is the only institution dedicated to studying the species.

The International Organization for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Philippine tarsier as a “near threatened” species but warns that this classification is not final because there is not enough data on its conservation status.

8. Hirola

Hirola
Hirola | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NameBeatragus Hunteri
HabitatKenya, Somalia
Current Population500
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByHunting, disease, Drought, Habitat loss, Predation, and Competition with livestock

The representative of the bovid family, the hirola, also known as the Hunter’s antelope, is also a rare species of animal. Hirola inhabit semi-arid thorny shrubs, open shrub grasslands, light forests, and lush savanna grasslands. 

Its preferred habitat is seasonally flooded open grasslands with scattered small shrubs and trees on well-drained soils with short, leafy grasses formed by fire or by the combined grazing pressure of wildlife and domestic livestock. 

This animal lives in groups, and there are seven to eight females for each male. To attract them during the mating period, which falls on March-April, the male shuffles his hooves and “cries” with special secretions that come from his preorbital glands. 

Hirola has shown a decrease of more than 80% (and continues) during the last three generations (16 years) and reaches the Critically Endangered threshold. Hunting, disease, drought, habitat loss, predation, and competition with livestock threaten the Hirola. Furthermore, the lack of effective protection in many parts of the remaining range leaves it vulnerable to poaching. 

Hirola no longer exists in captivity, and the last one died in 2002. The development of the livestock industry, aggravated by rinderpest and drought, is an ongoing threat. The situation of the Hirola remains serious, given its extremely rapid decline and the serious political and environmental problems that currently prevail over the natural range.

9. Hainan Black Crested Gibbon

Hainan Black Crested Gibbon
Hainan Black Crested Gibbon | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NameNomascus Hainanus
HabitatHainan Island, China
Current Population28
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByDeforestation

Hainan black-crested gibbon or Hainan gibbon is one of the gibbon species found only on the island of Hainan, China. It was previously recognized as a subspecies of the eastern black crested gibbon from Hoa Binh and Cao Bung provinces in Vietnam and Jingxi County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. 

Its habitat consists of deciduous forests and semi-deciduous monsoon forests. It feeds on ripe, sugar-rich fruits such as figs and sometimes leaves and insects. Over the past half-century, the number of Hainan gibbons has dropped dramatically. Today they live only in a small strip of forest on the Chinese island of Hainan. 

In the late 1950s, about two thousand individuals of this primate were on the island. But by the 1970s, there were only 10 of them. Deforestation destroys the natural habitat of the Hainan gibbon. Still, thanks to the conservation program, they hope to save the species: according to 2003 estimates, there were already about thirty individuals in the forest.

The Hainan Gibbon Conservation Project, run by Hong Kong’s Kadoori Botanical Garden, has conserved the Hainan gibbon for nearly 20 years. According to the organization’s representative Philip Lo, the Hainan gibbon is the rarest primate on the planet. Still, there is a possibility that the individual will be able to overcome the crisis and not die out.

When the conservation program began in 2003, only 13 gibbons lived on the island in two groups. As part of the program, patrols and monitoring were organized, and studies of monkeys’ behavior and ecological needs were carried out. 

Thousands of trees of various specimens have been planted in the forest. Today, there are about 20 species of gibbon in the world that live in the jungle from India to Borneo Island. 

Most of these species are at risk of extinction due to deforestation, hunting, or illegal trade. In China, two species of gibbons have disappeared in recent years, and the rest, including the Hainan gibbon, are classified by the IUCN as critically close to extinction.

10. Black-Eyed Leaf Frog

Black-Eyed Leaf Frog
Black-Eyed Leaf Frog | Image Credit – Flickr
Scientific NameAgalychnis Moreletii
HabitatWetlands of Belize, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala
Current PopulationPopulation Declining Critically
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
Threatened ByPet Trade, Agriculture and Chytridiomycosis

The Black-Eyed Leaf Frog (Morelet’s Tree Frog) is a sight to behold, with its bulging, dark pupils and lime-green skin with a red lower belly. The species is a highly endangered animal, but it exists in the wetlands of Belize, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. 

They can inhabit pristine or remote habitats and breed in temporary or permanent water bodies. They have an extended breeding season in the summer months. They deposit 50 to 75 eggs of adhesion on vegetation or swarms above water. Eggs of the Morelet tree frog have a green pigment, and when they hatch, the larvae enter the water to complete their development into frogs.

The Morelet tree frog was widespread in its range and was kept as a pet. The main threat these frogs face is the destruction of their habitats since urban growth, excessive logging, and the extension of agricultural and livestock fields have contributed to the loss of their ecosystems. 

It has also happened in Mexico, one of the countries with the greatest violence towards environmental defenders and activists. The Morelet tree frog population is also being affected by a disease called “Chytridiomycosis, “which is a notoriously common disease that kills amphibians. 

Some conservation measures have already been taken, while others still need implementation or research. Several protected parks have been established to harness habitat in areas of Central America and Mexico. 

Conclusion

You might consider yourself ‘lucky’ if you spot one of these rare animal species. They are listed as an ‘endangered species’ or ‘scarce species.’ Many other organisms are also facing a decline in their populations, which puts the ecological balance of various ecosystems at risk, which will sooner or later affect us. 

It should be clear to us that conserving biodiversity is not only to be able to see these marvelous animals. Beyond their aesthetic or scenic value, they guarantee our survival in the world: from diversity we obtain to everything we need to live. 

Most Endangered Animals Comparison Table

AnimalHabitatConservation StatusCurrent PopulationThreatened By
1SaolaVietnamCritically Endangered250Illegal HuntingHabitat Loss
2Javan RhinocerosIndonesiaCritically Endangered74Illegal HuntingDiseaseInbreedingHabitat Loss
3Cross River GorillaCameronNigeriaCritically Endangered250Illegal TradeDiseaseDeforestation
4Amur LeopardRussiaChinaKorean PeninsulaCritically Endangered70Illegal HuntingTerritory Competition with Siberian TigerDisease
5Asiatic LionIndiaEndangered674Human ThreatNatural Disaster
6OkapiCongoEndangered22,000MiningDeforestationPoachingCivil War
7TarsierPhilippinesEndangered10,000DeforestationHuntingStray Cats
8HirolaKenyaSomaliaCritically Endangered500HuntingDiseaseHabitat LossPredationCompetition with Livestock
9Hainan Black Crested GibbonChinaCritically Endangered28Deforestation
10Black Eyed Leaf FrogBrazilBelizeEl SalvadorHondurasGuatemalaCritically EndangeredAgriculturePet TradeChytridiomycosis

(Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Ankur Pradhan holds a bachelor’s degree in education and health and three years of content writing experience. Addicted to online creative writing, she puts some of what she feels inside her stormy heart on paper. She loves nature, so she is trying to motivate people to switch to alternative energy sources through her articles.