15 Most Endangered Species on Earth

Our planet, Earth, hosts more than 30 million animal species. However, a number of those species are at a risk of extinction due to man’s intervention for consumption or entertainment. Endangered species are found throughout the world.

Endangered means that the animal is nearly extinct. Many different reasons are in place for the extinction of these animals, whether it is to use for their fur, the oil they produce or as a food source. There are several different types of endangered species. Here we will take a look at some of the most endangered species out there.

1. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is the most critically endangered species out there. It lives in the Southeastern US and parts of Cuba. It is a huge woodpecker that was extinct until 2004. World Wildlife Fund issued the statement following reports that the ivory-billed woodpecker has been found in Arkansas, 60 years after it was believed to have gone extinct.

Even now, there are only a handful of the woodpeckers that are still around. It is a very vulnerable animal. The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and local communities have worked tirelessly for years to keep these magnificent landscapes intact and help the bird survive.

2. The Amur Leopard

The Amur Leopard is a rare leopard found only in northern Russia’s Primorye region. This region is very snowy and cold. At one time, the leopard was also found in Korea and China, but the leopard is obsolete in those areas. The Amur leopard is also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard.

The Amur leopard can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour and has been reported to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically.

The critically endangered Amur leopard is solitary. Nimble-footed and strong, it carries and hides unfinished kills so that they are not taken by other predators. Some males stay with females after mating, and may even help with rearing the young. Several males sometimes follow and fight over a female.

They live for 10-15 years, and in captivity up to 20 years. According to Census records, there are only 84 and some more adult Amur leopards in existence in the world today.

3. The Javan Rhinoceros

The Javan Rhinoceros is another of the top endangered species out of the five rhino species. This species is dusky grey color and has a single horn of up to about 10 inches. Its skin has a number of loose folds and looks like the armor plating. The Javan rhino looks very similar to the closely-related greater one-horned rhinoceros, but their head is much smaller, and skin folds are less apparent.

There is an estimated 58-68 rhinos still alive today, those residing in Indonesia in the Ujung Kulon National Park. This animal once lived throughout northeast India and Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was poached in 2010. The animal is so desired because of its horn.

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4. Lemur

Lemurs are easily recognized by their long, bushy tails and translucent eyes, and found only on Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. This area is found on the southeast coast of Africa.

These unique creatures are the most threatened of all primates. More than 100 different species of Lemur are found, all of which are endangered. There is almost no Lemur remaining today, of any species. Although they are not on the list of critically endangered species, there are few of these animals found at any place.

5. Northern Right Whale

The Northern right whale is the most endangered of the whale species. The North Atlantic right whale can easily be identified by the white calluses on its head, which are very noticeable against the whale’s dark gray body. It has a broad back without a dorsal fin and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. A baleen whale usually feeds by swimming through a swarm of plankton with its mouth open and the head slightly above the surface.

It is found around the Atlantic coasts of Canada as well as the US, with approximately 300-350 different whales still found. This whale is needed for its oil as well as its easy production process. It is a protected whale. Right whales are found more often in coastal waters, especially during the breeding season.

6. Vaquita

Vaquita
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Source: National Geographic

Vaquita is a family of porpoise and the world’s rarest marine mammal, on the edge of extinction. Its top or dorsal surface is dark gray, sides are pale gray, and its underside or the ventral surface is white with long, light gray markings. The vaquita has a large dark ring around its eyes and dark patches on its lips that form a thin line from the mouth to the pectoral fins. They are most often found close to shore in the Gulf’s shallow waters, although they quickly swim away if a boat approaches.

Only about 10 individuals are remaining. This little porpoise discovered in 1958, and a little over half a century later, they are on the brink of extinction. Vaquitas are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in protected marine areas within Mexico’s Gulf of California, specifically, in the stretch of water between Mexico and Baja California. 

Climate change is one of the reasons which affects their food availability and habitat. The population has dropped drastically in the last few years.

7. Black Rhinoceros

Black Rhinoceros is another species that is in the list of endangered species that are going to be extinct forever. In the 20th century, populations of black rhino declined dramatically at the hands of European hunters and settlers. Between 1960 and 1995, black rhino numbers dropped by a sobering 98%, to less than 2,500.

However, the species has made a tremendous comeback from the brink of extinction. The persistent conservation efforts across Africa made the black rhino numbers doubled from their historic low 20 years ago to between 5,042 and 5,455 today.

However, the black rhino is still considered critically endangered. Climate change and poaching to sell their horn for extremely high profits are believed to be two major reasons for the drop in the count of this species. A lot of work remains to bring the numbers up to even a fraction of what it once was.

8. Mountain Gorilla

Mountain gorillas are found in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. More than 50% live in the Virunga Mountains, a range of extinct volcanoes bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and the rest can be found in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

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They have thicker fur than other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing.

It is estimated that more than 1000 mountain gorillas are left in this world, making it another species among the group of the endangered species list. Due to their aggressive behavior, people started having the misconception that they pose a great risk to their safety. They started hunting them down, and despite repeated conservation initiatives, their population is still not secured from poachers.

9. Baiji

Baiji and Vaquita are two aquatic animals that have been listed among the most endangered species list. The Baiji is found in the Yangtze River in China and therefore is called the Yangtze River Dolphin. However, in 2006 the Baiji dolphin was declared “functionally extinct”. Yet, only three Yangtze River Dolphins were found in an expedition done in 2007. 

Despite various initiatives like the creation of natural reserves along the middle and lower areas of the Yangtze River, they have not been effective in preventing incidental deaths of the Yangtze River Dolphins. This was the first time in history that an entire species of dolphins had been wiped off the planet because of human activity.

10. The Saola

The Saola or sow-la is also known as the Asian unicorn. It is rarely seen these days. The animal is quite large and has been around since 1992, though seen only on rare occasions. It is considered a critically endangered animal and is found only in the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam.

Saolacabn can be identified by two parallel horns with sharp ends on both males and females, which can reach 20 inches in length. Known by “spindle horns” in Vietnamese, it resembles a cattle or an antelope and have striking white patches on its face and large maxillary glands on the muzzle, which could be used to mark territory or attract mates.

11. Cross River Gorilla

Cross River Gorilla is mostly found along the southern Cameroon-Nigerian border. There are only around 200-300 Cross River Gorillas left. This subspecies of the western gorilla looks very similar in appearance to the more numerous western lowland gorilla, but subtle differences can be found in the skull and tooth dimensions.

Cross River gorillas live in a region where many humans live. Humans encroached upon the gorilla’s territory, clearing forests for timber and creating fields for agriculture and livestock. Illegal hunting, poaching occurs in the forests as well as changing climate are major reasons for the extinction and loss of habitat of Cross River Gorillas. The loss of even a few of these gorillas has a detrimental effect on such a small population.

12. Leatherback Sea Turtle

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest sea turtle species found on the earth named for their leather-like rather than hardshell, unlike other turtles. It is found all over the globe but is prone to areas of the tropic.

Globally, leatherback status, according to IUCN, is listed as Vulnerable, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic) are Critically Endangered. There were once more than 120,000 adult female leatherback sea turtles, but today the number is down to just about 20,000, and that number continues to decline.

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Their distribution is wide; still, numbers of leatherback turtles have seriously declined during the last century due to intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch. Theft of eggs by humans and illegal hunting are perhaps the two most common reasons this turtle is going to be extinct.

13. Siberian Tiger

The Siberian Tiger is the largest cat found in the world. The Siberian tiger was also called “Amur tiger”, “Manchurian tiger”, “Korean tiger”, and “Ussurian tiger”, depending on the region where individuals were observed. It can weigh as much as 650 pounds. This species of tiger can be found in the birch forest of Russia and Far East China and Korea. These tigers often live in areas with wintertime temperatures extremely cold, some as much as -50 degrees F.

This tiger is becoming extinct due to hunting. A more detailed census revealed a total population of 562 wild Siberian tigers in Russia. It is illegal to hunt a Siberian tiger.

14. Giant Chinese Salamander

The Giant Chinese Salamander is the world’s biggest amphibian. It can grow to be as long as 6 feet in length and weighs over 140 pounds. It is fully aquatic and is endemic to rocky mountain streams and lakes in central China’s Yangtze river basin.

They lay as many as 500 eggs at once. Their eggs are found in underwater burrows.  It is considered critically endangered in the wild due to habitat loss, pollution, and overcollection. As it is considered a delicacy, people use the Chinese Giant Salamander as food, and they are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.

15. The Little Dodo Bird

The tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculusstrigirostris), also known as the manumea and the genus name Didunculus means “little dodo”. The Little Dodo Bird or tooth-billed pigeon is a dark pigeon with reddish feet and red bare skin around the eye. This bird is native to Samoa and is rather small, measuring just 12 inches in length.

It has been shown to be genetically close to the dodo. The tooth-billed pigeon is evaluated as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Surveys suggest 70 to 380 individuals survive in the wild, and there is currently no captive population.

Did you know that all of the animals listed above were on the endangered species list? Although they are the most common of the endangered species, there are certainly many others that are also out there, including the topmost endangered species listed above.

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