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10 Most Endangered Animals

If you are as much of an animal lover as we are, you might be interested in the 10 most endagered animals around the globe and how you can protect them.

A species is classified as endangered when its population has declined between 50 and 70 percent and when its population is restricted to less than 250 mature individuals. When a species’ population is this low, its area of occupancy is not considered. Imagine a world teetering on the edge of losing some of its most extraordinary inhabitants. This is the stark reality for the 10 most endangered animals, each species a poignant symbol of the fragility of our planet’s biodiversity. Classified as endangered, these creatures have seen their populations plummet by 50 to 70 percent, with fewer than 250 mature individuals remaining for each. In this precarious state, their limited numbers speak louder than the expanse of their habitats. Join us as we embark on a journey to understand and appreciate these ten remarkable species.

As of 2022, there are more than 150,300 species on The IUCN Red List, with more than 42,100 species threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 36% of reef building corals, 34% of conifers, 27% of mammals and 13% of birds.

IUCN Red List

You can explore the Most Endangered Animals web story.

Woman near Nung Nung
Woman near Nung Nung waterfal on Bali, Indonesia. Image via Istockphoto

This includes both endangered animals and endangered plants.

Read on to find out which animals are at the highest risk for extinction and what we can do to protect the 10 most endangered animals in 2024.

 Key points

PropertyValue
Conservation Status of Endangered SpeciesDecline between 50-70%, population less than 250 mature individuals
IUCN Red List – 2022Over 150,300 species listed, 42,100 species threatened with extinction
Most Endangered Animals Web StoryIncludes both endangered animals and plants
Endangered Species MentionedJavan Rhinoceros, Vaquita, Mountain Gorilla, Tigers, Asian Elephants, Orangutans, Leatherback Sea Turtles, Snow Leopards, Irrawaddy Dolphins, Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Javan RhinocerosCritical endangerment, only around 60 individuals, limited to one park
VaquitaCritical endangerment, small area in Gulf of California
Mountain GorillaCritical endangerment, around 1,000 individuals, habitat loss and conflict
TigersEndangered, around 3,900 tigers, various subspecies
Asian ElephantsEndangered, 40,000 – 50,000 individuals, habitat loss and conflict
OrangutansCritical endangerment, around 104,700 individuals, habitat loss
Leatherback Sea TurtlesVulnerable, declining population, oceanic habitat
Snow LeopardsVulnerable, 4,000 – 6,500 individuals, mountain habitats
Irrawaddy DolphinsVulnerable, declining population, freshwater and brackish habitats
Atlantic Bluefin TunaVulnerable, overfishing and demand for sushi, impact on marine ecosystem
Eco-Tourism and Conservation EffortsProtected areas, captive breeding, sustainable practices
Responsibility to WildlifeHabitat protection, reforestation, sustainable living

#1 Javan Rhinoceros

Javen Rhino image
Javan rhinos are the most threatened of the five rhino species. Image via Pexels

About Javan Rhinoceros

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
PopulationAround 60
Scientific NameRhinoceros sondaicus
Height4.6–5.8 feet
Weight1,984 – 5,071 pounds
Length10–10.5 feet
HabitatsTropical forests

The Javan rhino, with an estimated global population of just 67 individuals, stands as one of the most critically endangered large mammals on Earth. This dire situation places it at the forefront of conservation efforts. These rhinos are exclusively found in Ujung Kulon National Park, located at the northern tip of Java, Indonesia, highlighting the species’ extremely limited geographical range.

The plight of the Javan rhino is part of a larger crisis facing rhinoceros species worldwide. Three rhino species – the black, Javan, and Sumatran – are listed as critically endangered. The situation for the Javan rhino became even more alarming when its mainland subspecies was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011.

For those interested in observing these majestic creatures, responsible viewing is possible at Ujung Kulon National Park. This park is the last refuge for the approximately 60 Javan rhinos that remain, making it a crucial site for their survival.

Conservation efforts for the Javan Rhinoceros are spearheaded by the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), in collaboration with their local partner, the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (Yayasan Badak Indonesia or YABI), and the staff of Ujung Kulon National Park. Together, they are dedicated not only to protecting this sole population of Javan rhinos but also to expanding their habitat within Indonesia to ensure the species’ continued survival.

#2 Vaquita

Found in the Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica
Found in the golfo dulce in Costa Rica. Image via Istockphoto

About Vaquita

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered (Population decreasing)
Scientific NamePhocoena sinus
Trophic LevelCarnivorous
Mass (Adult)43 kg
Length (Adult)1.2–1.5 meters
OrderArtiodactyla
FamilyPhocoenidae

The Vaquita, often referred to as the “little cow,” is a critically endangered species of harbor porpoise, native to the northernmost waters of the Gulf of California, Mexico. This marine mammal holds the distinction of being the smallest existing member of the Cetacean family, which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Adult vaquitas typically measure between 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) in length and weigh just over 100 pounds (45 kilograms), making them notably petite compared to their aquatic relatives.

This species is currently facing an alarming risk of extinction. The vaquita’s habitat is restricted to a very limited area, and with their numbers dwindling, they have become one of the most endangered cetaceans in the world.

For those interested in observing the vaquita in its natural habitat, the Gulf of California in Mexico is the place to visit. However, given their endangered status, any observation must be conducted responsibly and with utmost respect for the conservation efforts aimed at saving this precious species from extinction.

Rock formation
The Vaquita is a small harbor porpoise native to a very small area in the extreme northern part of the Gulf of California, Mexico. Image via Unsplash

The Vaquita is a small harbor porpoise native to a very small area in the extreme northern part of the Gulf of California, Mexico.

Vaquita Conservation

Porpoise.org

Support Conservation Efforts The vaquita is just one species in peril. Accidental entanglement in fishing nets is a major cause of unnecessary mortalities in countless species worldwide. Support efforts to eliminate this threat!

 #3 Mountain Gorilla

gorilla and baby
Mountain gorilla and baby gorilla. Image via Istockphoto

About Mountain Gorilla

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
PopulationAround 1,000
Scientific NameGorilla beringei beringei
Trophic LevelHerbivorous
WeightApproximately 135–220 kg (Adult males)
HeightAbout 4–5.6 feet (When standing)
HabitatsMontane and bamboo forests

Mountain gorillas have long faced a barrage of threats, including relentless hunting, exposure to diseases, loss of habitat, and the devastating impacts of human conflicts. These factors have led to a dramatic decline in their population, placing them in the category of endangered species.

In a significant development, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), responsible for assessing the conservation status of species, revised the status of mountain gorillas. In 2008, acknowledging a slight improvement in their numbers, they were reclassified from “critically endangered” to “endangered.” This change reflects the positive impact of concerted conservation efforts, although the species remains under threat and in need of ongoing protection.

Mountain View
This is the home to mountain gorillas. Image via Istockphotos

5 Best Places to See Gorillas in Africa

  1. Rwanda. The Virunga Mountains spanning the borders of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are home to over 600 mountain gorillas.
  2. Uganda. 
  3. Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  4. Congo Brazzaville.
  5. Central African Republic.

Mountain Gorilla Conservation

International Gorilla Conservation Program 

Securing the Future for Mountain Gorillas. The International Gorilla Conservation Programme is a unique coalition of international conservation organizations …

#4 Tigers

Wild tiger in a pool of water in Ranthambore tiger reserve
Wild tiger in a pool of water in Ranthambore tiger reserve. Image via Istockphoto

About Tigers

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusEndangered
PopulationAround 3,900 tigers (As of 2016)
Scientific NamePanthera tigris
Trophic LevelCarnivorous
WeightVaries by subspecies, 90–310 kg
LengthVaries by subspecies, 2.1–3.9 m
HabitatsVarious habitats, including forests, grasslands


Tigers, majestic and powerful felines, are divided into several subspecies: Bengal, Indochinese, Sumatran, Siberian, and Malayan. These magnificent creatures are recognized as “Endangered” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Within these subspecies, the Malayan and Sumatran tigers face an even more critical situation and are classified as “Critically Endangered.”

As of today, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species categorizes the overall tiger population as Endangered. It’s estimated that a mere 3,500 tigers remain in the wild globally, a stark indicator of the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect and preserve these iconic animals in their natural habitats.

Where to see them responsibly? 

Bandhavgarh National Park is the best place to find tigers in the wild.

Tiger in its habitat
Tiger in its habitat. Image via Istockphoto

Tigers Conservation

Wildlife Conservation Society 

WCS Goals : Protect tigers and their habitat. · Build capacity in range states. · Reduce human-tiger conflict. · Conduct scientific research on tigers to help inform conservation 

#5 Asian Elephants

Thailand elephant
Thailand elephant in water. Image via Istockphoto

About Asian Elephants

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusEndangered
PopulationApproximately 40,000 – 50,000
Scientific NameElephas maximus
Trophic LevelHerbivorous
WeightAround 2,500 – 5,500 kg (Adult)
LengthAround 6 – 9 feet (Height at shoulder)
HabitatsForests, grasslands, wetlands

The Asian elephant, a majestic species, is currently facing a critical situation. Classified as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this species has experienced a drastic population decline, estimated at around 50 percent over the past 75 years. Today, the wild population of Asian elephants is believed to be between 20,000 and 40,000 individuals.

In addition to its IUCN status, the Asian elephant was designated as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) back in 1976. This classification, coupled with its status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), strictly prohibits the commercial trade of Asian elephants, including their parts and products. This legal protection is a crucial step in the ongoing efforts to conserve and safeguard these remarkable creatures.

Where to see them responsibly? 

elephant drinking milk
Elephant drinking milk out of a bottle. Image via Istockphoto
  • Thailand. About a third of the world’s Asian elephants live in captivity, most in Southeast Asia. …
  • Kenya. Prepare to be impressed at Amboseli National Park, a big-sky game viewing spot just above Kenya’s southern border with Tanzania.
  • Sri Lanka.

Asian Elephants Conservation

Elephant Conservation.org

We got you covered check out these 10 ways to save elephants that we can all do!

  1. Support the ban of the ivory trade.
  2. Choose elephant-friendly coffee.
  3. Choose ethical tours.
  4. Think before you post an elephant photo.
  5. Support elephant sanctuaries.
  6. Adopt an elephant.

You can apply this conscious decision-making to help the 10 most endangered animals and more…

#6 Orangutans

orangutan mother with child in nature
orangutan mother with child in nature. Image via Istockphotos

About Orangutans

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusCritically Endangered
PopulationAround 104,700 (Bornean & Sumatran combined)
Scientific NamePongo spp. (P. pygmaeus, P. abelii)
Trophic LevelOmnivorous (mainly frugivorous)
WeightVaries by species, 30–82 kg
Arm SpanAround 5.5 – 7.5 feet
HabitatsTropical rainforests

Orangutan populations have undergone a dramatic decline over the last century. Historically, their numbers exceeded 230,000, but today, the situation is dire. The Bornean orangutan, now classified as Endangered, has an estimated population of 104,700, a figure adjusted to reflect its updated geographic range. Even more critical is the plight of the Sumatran orangutan, with a population of approximately 7,500, earning it the status of Critically Endangered.

The primary threat to these magnificent apes is the destruction and degradation of their tropical rainforest habitat, particularly the lowland forests of Borneo and Sumatra. Contributing significantly to this habitat loss is the expansion of palm oil plantations. Palm oil, a common ingredient in a wide array of food and cosmetic products, is a major driver of the rapid deforestation in Sumatra. Similarly, in both Sumatra and Borneo, vast areas of vital orangutan habitat are being relentlessly cleared to make way for oil palm cultivation, posing an alarming threat to their survival.

Where to see them responsibly? 

5 best places to see orangutans in the wild

agriculture.
A image of agriculture . Image via depositphotos
  1. Danum Valley, Sabah, Malaysia. 
  2. Gunung Leuser, Sumatra, Indonesia. 
  3. Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia. 
  4. Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan, Indonesia. 
  5. Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia.

If you want to discover more, read our dedicated article on the best places to see Orangutans.

Orangutans Conservation

World Wildlife.org

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program establishing entirely new, genetically viable and self-sustaining wild populations of any great ape species, anywhere in the world.

#7 Leatherback Sea Turtles

leatherback turtle
A beautiful image of a leatherback turtle during sunrise. This picture is very unique because the turtle has been temporally blinded by sand sticking to its eye. Image via Istockphoto

About Leatherback Sea Turtles

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusVulnerable
PopulationUncertain (Declining)
Scientific NameDermochelys coriacea
Trophic LevelCarnivorous (Jellyfish)
WeightUp to 961 kg (Heaviest recorded)
LengthAround 1.8 – 2.2 meters (6 – 7 ft)
HabitatsOceans, open water

Leatherback turtles, distinguished by their unique leather-like shell instead of the typical hard shell found in other turtle species, are the largest of all sea turtles. Known for their extensive migratory patterns, they traverse vast distances across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

These turtles are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, with their presence extending to various U.S. waters, including the West Pacific, East Pacific, and Northwest Atlantic. The nesting grounds of the Pacific leatherback turtle are primarily located in the tropical regions of both the eastern and western Pacific.

The decline in leatherback turtle populations is largely attributed to excessive egg collection and accidental capture in fishing gear, known as bycatch. In response to these alarming declines, NOAA Fisheries officially listed all leatherback turtle populations as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1970, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect this species.

Where to see them responsibly? 

Top 5 places to see Sea Turtles

  • Costa Rica. Playa Grande. This beautiful beach is one of the top locations in the world to see humongous leatherback turtles all year-round. 
  • Indonesia. Gili Islands. 
  • Australia. Heron Island. 
  • Hawaii. Laniakea Beach. 
  • Malaysia. Tioman Island.

Leatherback Sea Turtles Conservation

The Leatherback Trust 

A nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the leatherback sea turtle by promoting the conservation of leatherbacks at risk of extinction. 

You might also like Animals at the brink of extinciton in 2023.

#8 Snow leopards

snow leapard
Snow Leopard or Ounce, uncia uncia, Adult standing on Snow. Image via Istockphoto

About Snow leopards

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusVulnerable
PopulationEstimated 4,000 – 6,500 individuals
Scientific NamePanthera uncia
Trophic LevelCarnivorous
Weight22 – 55 kg (Adult)
LengthHead and body: 75 – 130 cm
HabitatsHigh mountain ranges, alpine meadows

The current population of snow leopards in the wild is estimated to be between 4,080 and 6,590 individuals. However, accurately determining their numbers remains a challenge for scientists due to the elusive nature of these animals and the remote, rugged terrain they inhabit. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified snow leopards as ‘Vulnerable’, indicating a high risk of endangerment in the wild.

Snow leopards are native to the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. In India, their habitat extends across a significant portion of the western Himalayas, including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and also reaches into Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas. This expansive range underscores the importance of conservation efforts across multiple regions to protect and preserve this majestic species.

Where to see them responsibly? 

In the Himalayas, snow leopards live in high alpine areas, mainly above the tree line and up to 18,000 feet. They are found in 12 countries—China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Mongolia.

Snow leopards Conservation

Snow Leopard Trust

Snow Leopard Conservancy 

#9 Irrawaddy Dolphins

Irrawaddy dolphin swimming in ocean.
Irrawaddy dolphin swimming in ocean. Image via Istockphoto

About Irrawaddy Dolphins

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusVulnerable
PopulationUncertain, declining
Scientific NameOrcaella brevirostris
Trophic LevelCarnivorous
LengthAround 2.3 – 2.75 meters
WeightApproximately 130 – 180 kg
HabitatFreshwater and brackish habitats

The Irrawaddy dolphin is a unique euryhaline species, adept at living in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Unlike most dolphins, the Irrawaddy lacks a pronounced beak and streamlined head, featuring instead a blunt snout and a distinctly high, rounded forehead.

A notable population of these dolphins is found in the Mekong River, specifically in a 118-mile stretch between Cambodia and Lao PDR. However, their numbers are critically low, with estimates suggesting the existence of only about 92 individuals in this area. These dolphins serve as vital indicators of the health and management of the river’s ecosystem, and their declining numbers could foreshadow a broader environmental crisis for the river.

For those wishing to observe the Irrawaddy dolphins responsibly, their numbers have continued to dwindle alarmingly, with current estimates indicating that only around 80 individuals remain in the Mekong, particularly between Kratie and the Lao border. The prime location for sightings is Kampi, located approximately 15km north of Kratie on the road to Sambor in Southeast Asia. This spot offers a unique opportunity to witness these rare dolphins in their natural habitat while underscoring the importance of their conservation.

Irrawaddy Dolphins Conservation

Endangered Species International 

ESI directly promotes sustainable fishing practices and no-fishing zones (no-take zones) where dolphins are still found. Further, ESI focuses on restoring and protecting natural habitats like estuaries and rivers where dolphins occur.

Are you interested in ugly animals, have a look at our blog!

#10 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin Tuna in a netted ranch. Image via Istockphoto.

About Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

PropertyValue
Conservation StatusVulnerable
PopulationUncertain, declining
Scientific NameOrcaella brevirostris
Trophic LevelCarnivorous
LengthAround 2.3 – 2.75 meters
WeightApproximately 130 – 180 kg
HabitatFreshwater and brackish habitats

Over the past few decades, bluefin tuna populations, including Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern varieties, have experienced a drastic decline due to overfishing and illegal fishing. A significant driver behind this decline has been the high demand for bluefin tuna in upscale sushi markets.

Currently, the critically endangered bluefin tuna represents a mere 1% of the global tuna catch. Despite advancements in fishing technology, the methods employed for the conservation and management of tuna species have not kept pace, leading to increased vulnerability for these fish.

Scientists are concerned about the broader ecological impact of the bluefin tuna’s decline, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea. They predict that the diminishing tuna populations could lead to a substantial increase in the numbers of benthopelagic cephalopods, such as squid. This shift could, in turn, adversely affect the sardine population, highlighting the interconnected nature of marine ecosystems and the far-reaching consequences of species decline.

Where to see them responsibly? 

Bluefin tuna live mainly in the North Atlantic pelagic ecosystem and its adjacent seas, especially in the Mediterranean Sea. Geographically, their population is distributed throughout the North Atlantic, from Ecuador to Norway and from the Black Sea to Mexico.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Conservation

Center for Biological Diversity 

Prized as a high-value dish at sushi restaurants, bluefin are being pushed toward extinction by decades of overfishing. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists two species of bluefin, the Atlantic and the southern, as endangered or critically endangered, on its “Red List” of imperiled species.

How can we help: Eco Tourism  for endangered animals

wild life conservation
The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure the survival of these species, and to educate people on living sustainably with other species. Image via Istockphoto.

The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure the survival of these species, and to educate people on living sustainably with other species.

Developing protective areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries to protect the animals in their natural habitat. The endangered and vulnerable species can be kept in captivity in places such as local sanctuaries and bred to increase their population. The cutting of forests should be strictly prohibited.

The Foundations of Eco-Tourism 

: tourism directed towards foreign, often threatened, natural environments to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.

To successfully embody ecotourism, businesses must consider the following three measures: Sustainable Business Practices, Community Development, and Environmental Stewardship.

Our responsibility to wildlife

Image of people striking for climate change,
People with placards and posters on a global strike for climate change .Image via Istockphotos.

Individuals can contribute to mitigating this threat by engaging in local environmental efforts. Actions such as planting native trees, restoring wetlands, and participating in beach clean-ups can significantly help in preserving these vital habitats.

These activities, while seemingly straightforward, play a crucial role in curbing the extent of human impact on the natural world. Such grassroots initiatives are not only effective but also accessible ways for people to contribute to the conservation of our planet’s diverse species.

Summary of the 10 Most Endangered Animals 

Contact between jungle animal and human.
Contact between jungle animal and human. Image via Istockphoto

As part of the world’s ecosystems, wildlife provides balance and stability to nature’s processes. The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure the survival of these species, and to educate people on living sustainably with other species.

Such practice will help secure the conservation of the 10 most endangered and critically endangered animals. 

If you enjoyed this blog, please look at our Top 10 Ugly Animals or Top 5 Rarest Animals in the World blog. Also, The Top 10 Cutest Animals may captivate you with possible animal encounters of each continent around the globe.

Or something new, the Canadian Marble Fox Enjoy!

Thank you for reading about the most endangered animals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are endangered animals and how are they endangered?

Endangered animals are species that face a high risk of extinction in the near future. They are at risk due to various factors, such as habitat loss, overhunting, pollution, climate change, and more. When a species’ population declines significantly, and it is at risk of disappearing entirely, it is classified as endangered.

What do you mean by an endangered animal?

An endangered animal is a species that is at a critical risk of becoming extinct. Their populations have dwindled to a level where their survival in the wild is threatened by various human activities and environmental changes.

What are the causes of endangered animals?

The causes of endangered animals can vary, but common factors include habitat destruction, pollution, overhunting, climate change, and invasive species. These factors disrupt ecosystems, threaten food sources, and directly harm species, leading to population declines.

What are endangered animals and why are they important?

Endangered animals are species that are facing the risk of extinction. They are important because they contribute to the balance and diversity of ecosystems. Each species plays a role in maintaining a healthy environment, and the loss of one species can disrupt the entire ecosystem. Additionally, preserving endangered animals reflects our responsibility to protect the planet’s biodiversity for future generations.

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