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The most endangered animal species

and subspecies

1.The Vaquita

The vaquita, also called vaquita, is the smallest known whale. With a total population of just over 10 specimens left, it is unfortunately also the most endangered animal species in the world and is on the brink of extinction as a result of a drastic population decline in recent years. Illegal fishing in particular, in which the vaquitas die in the nets, poses a major problem for the species. The poachers are actually after a fish that is also known as the cocaine of the sea...


Photos of two vaquitas in the Gulf of California

2. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle

Rafetus swinhoei is a softshell turtle species native to southern China and Vietnam. After the death of the only and last known female in spring 2019, only 3 male specimens of this species are known, which means that it is also on the verge of extinction.

3. Zhou's hinged turtle

It is still not known where exactly this species is actually native, because it is only known from specimens sold on Chinese markets . Although it is assumed that Zhou's hinged turtles come from the highland forests of northern Vietnam, this cannot be said with certainty, especially since it was already assumed that the species was already extinct in the wild ...  until specimens turned up again at wildlife markets. Unfortunately, due to the lack of more detailed information about the origin of the animals, hardly any protective measures have been taken. The only guarantee for the survival of the species at present is a conservation breeding program with around 100 specimens, mainly managed by the International Center for Turtle Conservation in Münster. At least a hope that not all of these mysterious and endangered turtles fall victim to the wildlife trade!


Drawing of Rafetus swinhoei

Photos of Zhou's hinged turtles taken by Christian Langner from the International Center for Turtle Conservation

4. The giant ibis

As its name suggests, the giant ibis is a particularly large species of ibis bird. Unfortunately, with only about 100 pairs left, its stock can be described as rather small. Especially the hunting of the birds, but also the draining and destruction of the habitats in their Southeast Asian homeland mean that the stocks continue to decline. Even if the first protective measures have already been taken, the question remains how quickly and effectively these can contribute to the protection of the species. However, it is clear that giant ibises are among the most endangered animal species in the world!

Drawing of a giant ibis from 1911 by Henrik Grönvold (image 1), as well as a photo of two specimens by Philipp Wagner

5. The Hainanese crested gibbon

The Hainanese crested gibbon (Nomascus hainanus) is a species of great ape found exclusively in the Bawangling Conservation Area on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. Due to the very small remaining population of only approx  25 copies  Unfortunately, it is also one of the animal species that are acutely threatened with extinction.

6. The Madagascar sea eagle

It is one of the rarest birds of prey in the world , there are said to be only about 360 eagles of this species left on Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world  give.  The IUCN describes it as critically endangered, i.e. threatened with extinction , and that is certainly fully justified.


Madagascar sea eagle, picture from Tanalahorizon

8. The leatherback turtle

The leatherback is the largest known sea turtle, and unfortunately  a critically endangered species . Because the increasing pollution of the seas by fishing nets, lines and plastic is causing the populations to continue to decline. Because the ones that feed you on jellyfish  Sea turtles become entangled and feed in floating debris and die as a result  painful . If the pollution of the seas  If this continues, an improvement in the situation for this species is by no means in sight.

7. The  Lake Pátzcuaro cross-toothed newt

This salamander species, scientifically as  Known as Ambystoma dumerilii , it is native to Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico. Just a few years ago, the tailed amphibians were fished by the ton, but the effluent from a nearby town that spilled into the lake and the fish that were introduced into the lake are now causing this species to fear for its survival . Because the last free-living Pátzcuaro cross-toothed newts are probably already extinct. So the preservation of the species in human care is probably the last chance for these sympathetic amphibians.


Photo of a Lake Pátzcuaro cross-toothed newt


A leatherback sea turtle laying eggs on the beach

9. The Saola

The Vietnamese forest cattle  was considered one of the most spectacular discoveries in 1992 -  such a unique one  Kind of late to discover appeared like  a wonder. But the Saola could disappear again as quickly as it came . Because to this day hardly anything is known about these animals due to their hidden way of life. However, it is clear that  the species is severely threatened by poaching, among other things  and only a few hundred copies exist.


Few photos have been taken of the shy Saolas, photo by Silviculture

10. The Hunter Antelope

Also called Hirola, it is one of the most endangered antelope species on earth. Still in 1979  there should have been about 16,000 antelopes, now only a fraction of them exist. With an estimated total population of less than  250
Hunter antelopes
it could soon be over for this species too...  


Hunter antelopes (Beatragus hunteri)

11. The Kakapo

They are probably some of the strangest birds imaginable. The only flightless parrot is the kakapo , a species that likes to climb, but roosts on the ground during the day. Kakapos are extremely inquisitive birds that, like many island animals, do not show any defensive behavior towards attackers. Unfortunately, not good conditions to survive long despite a life expectancy of about 95 years. Although there are around 200 of these unique birds again today due to enormous conservation efforts, they are almost certainly still one of the most endangered species in the world.

12. The Grenada Pigeon

It was a hurricane that brought this species to the brink of extinction in 2004. Because after the population had grown somewhat by 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated the small Caribbean island of Grenada and thus also the habitat of the Grenada pigeons. The total population dropped from 182 pigeons in 2003 to a maximum of 136 animals in 2007. Today there are said to be only about 110 adult Grenada pigeons and unfortunately there are fewer and fewer...

13. The Spixara

Another extremely endangered bird species is the Spixara. In nature, it was already considered extinct. The only hope for this amazing species of parrot now lies in captive animals . Due to many breeding successes  there is currently a project to reintroduce the first macaws in their Brazilian homeland in 20 years , thus enabling the species to survive in the wild. You can easily find more information about this unique project on the project's own website ( link ) .

And so, for these very rare parrots , the realistic one remains  Hope that in a few years or decades a stable population in the dry forests of Brazil will have grown from the now living animals!

14. The Javan Rhino

Javan rhinos are among the rarest animals in the world , there are only 70 specimens left at most , all of which live in Java's Ujung Kulon National Park, near the quite active volcano Krakatau. However, in recent years this has posed a rather minor threat to the Javan rhinos. Because the destruction of the rainforests, which is progressing almost without exception throughout Southeast Asia, partly due to the ever-increasing population numbers but also for plantations, in combination with the hunting of these rare ones and shy animals unfortunately led to the species being pushed back. Fortunately, the population has at least been stable in recent years. In 2015, a video of a female with a young animal was even published, a clear sign of the still existing hope for this species.


Picture of a kakapo specimen from the Natural History Museum in Vienna


Photo of a Spix's Macaw by Roland Wirth 

© EndangeReX / Kathrin Glaw

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Image of a Javan Rhinoceros specimen from the Natural History Museum  Vienna

15. Cat Ba Langur

The Cat Ba langurs could also soon be among the extinct primates . Because while there were still about 2,800 of these langurs in the 1960s, there are  after a dramatic population decline  only fewer than 100 cat ba langurs remain . Although their habitat is under protection, poaching occurs again and again, because the organs of the langur are said to have healing properties. In addition, many of the groups are very small and isolated from one another to the extent that they could be considered stable. The project for the conservation of langurs, which has been running since 2000, also counts  only with a very slow recovery of populations. Therefore, the Cat Ba langurs are still to be regarded as a highly endangered animal species, despite slightly increasing numbers.

16. The Philippine Eagle

Aside from its unique appearance, the Philippine eagle has another distinctive feature. It is not for nothing that it is also called the monkey eagle : when hunting, it happens that the eagles hunt in pairs, with one of the eagles distracting a monkey and the other catching the monkey from behind. Little is known about this amazing behavior, and perhaps never will, as monkey eagles are a critically endangered species . Due to mining projects, heavy deforestation and hunting, there are fewer and fewer Philippine eagles,  now it should  there will be at most 750 specimens of these great birds of prey.


Philippine Eagle captured in Bukidnon Province, Mindanao

17. Malagasy beaked turtle

In Germany it is known as the beaked breast turtle because of the long outgrowth of the male shell, in Madagascar it is called angonoka . Even if the species was already threatened and the stocks have increased again thanks to some breeding successes , the turtles are still extremely endangered. Because poaching in particular is a very big problem for the Angonokas. Poachers take speedboats to the beaches, collect the turtles there and then sell them on the black market  many thousands of euros . With this ruthless approach, conservationists have almost no chance and so the few Angonokas left in nature are becoming fewer and fewer , so that unfortunately they are still acutely threatened with extinction.


Image of an adult Angonoka in Madagascar

18. The Sumatran rhino

The Sumatran rhino is the most primitive of all rhino species  and also smaller than all its relatives. Even if the remaining population with a little less than 100 animals is probably still slightly larger than that of the Javan rhinoceros, the number of remaining animals is declining faster and further .  Unfortunately, the fact that more is known about the Sumatran rhino from breeding programs and zoos than about the Javan rhino does not seem to help either. The big problem: Unfortunately, the offspring still does not succeed . If populations continue to decline, the species could be completely gone in just a few years.

19. Scarlet Macaws

Illegal pet trade , habitat destruction and  there are at most 600 of these beautiful birds adorned with colorful feathers . Additionally  an enormously rapid population decline! These facts clearly indicate that red-fronted macaws must also be counted among the most endangered animal species on earth . However, there is still hope that proposed protective measures will be implemented in the near future, perhaps even a breeding group under human care can be set up, so that the approaching  Extinction of this unique species can possibly still be averted !


20. The South China Tiger

Once this wonderful tiger subspecies was spread all over China, now they are  probably extinct in nature , has not been seen for many years. So the hope remains that the last tigers still in human care, i.e. living in zoos, will enable the survival of this subspecies. However, it is also questionable whether they are actually a subspecies of their own. This shows once again how important knowledge is for saving species.


A South China tiger at Shanghai Zoo, photo by J. Patrick Fischer

21.The Senegal or West African lion

The IUCN classifies the lion subspecies Panthera leo senegalensis with just 400 living animals as critically endangered. Especially because of this very small population , the Senegal lion is highly endangered. According to current knowledge, however, the lion population from West Africa is not a separate subspecies. Nevertheless, they are always worth protecting.

22. The willow bunting

Until 2004, this bird species was listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, but due to overhunting on migratory routes, the willow bunting is now critically endangered .

23.The Tamarau

The tamarau is an Asian buffalo whose almost entire population is  located in a fairly small forested area on the Philippine island of Mindoro. Especially due to the extreme habitat destruction and the  Due to ongoing poaching there are now only about 450 specimens - a very small population, but still  it  there used to be significantly less. Unfortunately, a local conservation breeding program that was launched was also unsuccessful and could not improve the situation of the species. Unfortunately, for a long time not enough was known about the species to initiate more effective protective measures. The Zoological Society for Species and Population Protection eV  has therefore taken care of more knowledge  to collect information about these unique buffalo to enable further protection and most importantly ensure the survival of the species.


A tamarau in its habitat in the  Mount Iglit Baco National Park, photo by  Gregg Yan

24.The Queen Alexandra Butterfly

This beautiful moth from Papua New Guinea is a very special species. It is the largest known butterfly in the world, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful! But unfortunately are  these special moths are also threatened with extinction. Because although  Specimens of these butterflies at exorbitant prices  are sold, the deforestation of the habitat poses a much greater threat to the survival of the species. As so often, the conversion of the forests to palm oil plantations and other agricultural areas should be mentioned here. It also doesn't help that the larvae of the Queen Alexandra butterfly only feed on a single food plant...


25. The Fatu-Hiva Monarch

This small bird is only found on a single island thousands of kilometers from the nearest mainland. And yet the species was not considered particularly threatened until 2000. But since then, a lot has changed for the isolated birds. As a result of the introduction of rats on the island, the population of the Fatu-Hiva monarch has been declining at great speed, and the question remains whether the decline can be halted. Only about 30 specimens of the species still inhabit the island, and there are fewer and fewer...

26.The Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher

Around 1980 there were only 60-70 specimens of this very beautiful bird species. Luckily there have been some positive changes since then, and today there are again between 150 and 200 Seychelles Paradise Flycatchers. Although the IUCN Red List currently classifies the species as "critically endangered", the species could only be listed as "endangered" in a few years. However, it must not be forgotten that threats such as habitat destruction and introduced species could quickly worsen the situation in the future. Nevertheless, one can look quite optimistically into the future with this species!

27. The pygmy boar

Even though the species was once closer to extinction, these little pigs are still among the most endangered species. Due to a variety of different reasons, the population had dropped below 250 specimens a few years ago. thanks to the  Pygmy Hog Conservation Program has increased the number of hogs by more than 30%, and most importantly, two more populations have been established through the release of farmed specimens, so the species is no longer exclusive to Manas National Park. Important steps to save the species, but unfortunately the all-clear for these great pigs cannot be announced just yet!

28. The orange-crested cockatoo

Surprisingly little is known about this particularly rare subspecies of Yellow-crested Cockatoo. But one thing is certain: due to the destruction of habitats on its home island of Sumba and illegal pet trade, the population of these cockatoos is continuing to decline. Even if some of these birds still live in zoos, the wild population on Sumba is in a bad way. In 2012 the population was estimated at no more than 560 cockatoos, so given the rapidly declining population numbers there is not much time left to save the species from extinction.


29. The large Seychelles frog

This actually quite inconspicuous frog species only occurs on two islands of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, and only inhabits small areas on these. The large Seychelles frog is highly endangered due to the deterioration of the few and small-scale habitats as well as changes in precipitation, which are probably caused by climate change. Fortunately, frogs are quite common where they are still found, so it is unlikely that they will become extinct in the next few years. However, it must still be kept in mind that in addition to human influences, global climate change also influences and significantly determines the future of the species!

Pictures 1+2: Adult specimens of the large Seychelles frog

Image 3: Habitat of the large Seychelles frog

30. The Lesser Jamaican Nightjar

No sighting of this species has been confirmed since 1860, so it could already be called extinct. But lately there have been repeated finds of these nocturnal animals, which is why the survival of the little Jamaican nightjar seems possible to this day. If the species should still exist, however, it can be assumed that there are only very few animals left. As a result, the IUCN classifies the species as critically endangered if it survives to this day despite the introduction of mongooses and rats. However, before such statements can be made with certainty, the species must first be officially rediscovered.



1907 illustration of a Lesser Jamaican Nightjar by George Edward Lodge

31.The Tonkin snub nose

Tonkin snub noses are among the most endangered primates in the world. There are fewer than these slim monkeys native to northern Vietnam  250 copies. Above all, the destruction of their habitats and the hunting of these unique primates ensures that they are getting smaller and smaller  Population. In particular, the characteristic of these primates of not being particularly shy greatly increases the problem of hunting, so that the IUCN  currently sees poaching as the biggest threat to the Tonkin snubnoses. The fact that probably not all populations of this monkey species have yet  are known, so that the small population may be somewhat larger than previously assumed.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the Tonkin snub nose is unfortunately one of the most endangered species in the world.



Tonkin snub noses, photo by  Quiet Le


32. The Black Sifaka

Many know them, the likeable lemurs from Madagascar. Among the most well-known of them are the so-called Sifakas, a genus with 9 species, almost all of which have a very light coat colour. But watch out! One  Art, the black sifaka, is dancing  out of line. Because as its name suggests, it is colored completely dark, completely  different from its closest relatives. And what else sets him apart? It is probably the rarest lemur species in the world. Because there are only about 500 specimens of these wonderful animals left, and that's not all. The entire population of the black sifaka occurs in an area of about 300 km², a vanishingly small habitat. Disappearing - that's also what the living space does, because of fires and the deforestation of the forest, it is getting smaller and smaller, plus there is the hunting of animals. Not particularly good conditions for the survival of a species, but at least the range extends over two nature reserves, which are certainly very important for the survival of the black sifaka.


Pictures of Black Sifakas from near Black Lemur Camp

34. The Amber Tern

This tern, native to eastern Asia, was thought to be extinct. Because between 1937 and 2000 there were supposed sightings of these birds, but it was never certain whether they really were amber terns. Unfortunately, the species could soon become extinct a "second time", because with probably only 50 adult specimens and persistent  Hunting pressures, particularly on eggs considered a delicacy in China, as well as the destruction of wetlands that serve as habitats, do not bode well for the Amber Terns' survival. And so one thing above all remains very clear: if nothing is done to protect this species more in the next few years, any effort to save these terns could be at risk  come too late!


33. The Polynesian ground dove
Already 2 species of the genus Alopecoenas , which also includes the Polynesian earth pigeon, are extinct. but perhaps a third will be added soon. the  Tanna ground pigeon as well as the  Unfortunately, San Cristobal pigeons could not be saved, but there is still hope for the Polynesian earth pigeon. However, the current situation of the species is extremely poor. Many different threats - from introduced animal species such as rats and cats to disease and tropical storms. And then there is the extremely small population of less than 200 pigeons. Certainly not a particularly good starting position, and that is exactly why the special protection of this species is now more important than ever. So that this pigeon species can also be admired in the future, I still have to improve a few things, hopefully in time!



Polynesian ground doves and their two subspecies


Amber Terns, photo by Oregon State University

35.Pygmy Olive Ibis
Even the only one on the small  lying off the West African coast  Island  Unfortunately, the dwarf olive ibis native to São Tomé is in danger of extinction. To the regret of effective protective measures  Very little is known about these rather hidden animals. So  It is also very difficult to estimate the population, so that the IUCN limits the stock to between 70 and 400 specimens, but can hardly confirm these numbers with any certainty. Above all, the clearing of the forests on the island, mostly for the cultivation of cocoa, as well as the hunting of birds in the national park and the ever-progressing development of the island pose a major threat to the dwarf olive ibis.  For this species, too, it is therefore very important that greater conservation efforts are made in the near future so that it can be saved from extinction in good time.


36.Northern Spider Monkey

This one in the southeast  Brazil's native monkeys are found in the tropical rainforests of the Atlantic coast. But how long? Because of  There are fewer than 1000 northern spider monkeys left living in 14 separate populations, the survival of the species is by no means certain. And after the destruction of habitats was identified as the main cause of threat alongside hunting, the chances of the species surviving have fallen sharply in recent years. Because the Brazilian government around the President  Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly spoken out against the protection of the unique rainforests, which is why they are almost certainly among the endangered species.


A northern spider monkey, photo by  Paulo B Chaves 

37. Vancouver groundhog

Although this species was long considered just a subspecies of the woodchuck, the Vancouver marmots are now considered one  a species in its own right, and unfortunately also one of the most endangered species in the world. With a population of just over 100 animals,  which seems genetically very impoverished, the Vancouver marmots are extremely on the brink of existence. Because in addition to genetic impoverishment, the animals are also threatened by increasingly unsuitable habitats and strong influences from predators. But nevertheless there is now more and more hope for the survival of the species, because  a conservation breeding program has already been launched that has been very successful so far and even strengthens the natural population through reintroduction and could possibly even soon lead to the spread of the animals!

A Vancouver marmot, photo by Alina Fisher

38.Narrow-billed Vulture
It's no secret that more and more vulture species are on the brink of extinction. In the Asian region there has been one gigantic problem in particular in recent years. And that means Diclofenac. Although it is a well-known painkiller, that probably means very little. Even if it is actually a beautiful tradition that cows are considered sacred for Hindus  and are therefore treated very well, it poses an enormous threat to the vultures. They are scavengers and often feed on dead domestic animals, including cows. However, since these should not suffer any pain and are therefore often treated with diclofenac, which has fatal consequences for vultures, the vulture populations are declining there  alarmingly fast in recent years. There are now only between 1,000 and 3,800 narrow-billed vultures.  If the population continues to collapse at such a tremendous rate, it could be like some other vulture species  soon be too late.


39.Black-bellied panty hummingbird
Black-bellied panty hummingbirds only come in twos  very small forest areas of Ecuador. Even the extremely small distribution area poses a major threat to this species. Unfortunately, the rainforest there is also getting smaller and smaller and has to be used for the production of charcoal  for cultivated areas as well  Areas for cattle farming are giving way, as are copper mining in the region, fires and the construction of roads and a pipeline  permit  suitable habitat are becoming smaller and smaller. Add to that the very small population of little more than 250 black-bellied hummingbirds, which makes the species extremely vulnerable  leads. Without strong protective measures, this species will probably also be extinct in a few years.


40.Bactrian camel

Everyone knows these nice animals: the camel-looking bactrian camels, which however have two humps, can be viewed in most zoos. In many countries they are also popular and mostly indispensable farm animals. But very few people know that Bactrian camels are actually one of the most endangered animal species in the world. The species will certainly not die out in the foreseeable future due to its popularity as a pet and farm animal, but the  Wild populations of Bactrian camels could soon do the same. There are only about 950 wild bactrian camels in southern Mongolia and northern China, considering the number of approximately 2.5 million specimens kept by humans  vanishingly small proportion. And so the last wild bactrian camels in the world could soon be gone!




Narrow-billed Vulture, photo by  mike prince

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Black-bellied Pygmy Hummingbirds


Bactrian camel in the zoo of Görlitz

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