17 Of The Rarest Animals Alive, Including Some You Haven't Heard Of

17 Of The Rarest Animals In The World You’ll Probably Never Meet

May 26, 2020 Updated August 18, 2020


Is there a single soul out there who doesn’t love animals? We imagine that even the most hated of people (poachers, for example) still have a favorite animals. Cats, dogs and unicorns are all great, and have produced many animal jokes, but what about picking an animal that could use some attention?

Unfortunately, many of the animals on National Geographic’s most endangered list are facing catastrophic extinction due to human impact. Centuries of hunting, poaching, and private capture does not end without repercussions and now it’s up to us to undo what human kind has wrought, if it’s not too late that is. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the rarest animals on the verge of extinction and in desperate need of a champion. Pull out these fun facts during family game night to impress the kids.

1. Amur Leopard

At one time, these extraordinarily fast cats (they run about 37 mph) could be found in Russia, China and Korea. These days, the 60-ish remaining leopards all reside in Russia, along the Amur River basin.

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Amur leopards are the most rare and elusive species of leopards in the world, with an estimated 80-85 left in the wild. Found in the mountainous terrain of North East Russia and China, these solitary big cats are smaller than their African cousins, only topping out at about 110lbs. These tiny but mighty big cats can reach speeds of up to 37mph! While their wild numbers are critically endangered, places like the @sandiegozoo are responsible for helping to contribute to the captive population of over 200 across the world. Was lucky enough to snap this shot of this gorgeous Amur Leopard at the San Diego Zoo! What do y’all think of these shots? Should I keep posting here or create a separate account? *PLEASE DO NOT REPOST PHOTO WITHOUT CREDIT* #amurleopard #criticallyendangered #wildlifephotography #sandiegozoo #leopard #endangeredspecies #bigcat #nikonphotography #zoophotography #wildlifeofinstagram #wildlifeconservation #ameturephotography #endextinction #zoo #conservationphotography #wildlifewarriors #EndExtinction

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2. Black-footed ferret

In the 1980s, only 18 black-footed ferrets remained. and scientists created a captive breeding program. Thanks to that program, there are now 300 to 400 of their species. While that’s a massive improvement, it still puts them on the endangered list.

3. Bornean Orangutan

Threatened by both hunting and deforestation, the Bornean Orangutan’s population has decreased some 60 percent since the 50s. Making re-population even harder: The female can only reproduce once every six to eight years.

4. Darwin’s Fox

Named after Charles Darwin, these super cute foxes can only be found in Chile and are best spotted at night, when they come out to hunt and play. They’re considered an umbrella species — meaning the ecosystem will fail without their existence.

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Photo by Kevin Schafer – @schaferpho @natgeo – You are looking at one of the rarest mammals in the world: the Darwin’s Fox. Charles Darwin collected a specimen of the species along the coast of southern Chile in 1834, and it has been named for him ever since. Current estimates suggest there may be no more than a few hundred left – but they are so rarely seen, and so devilishly hard to census accurately, that their real status is anyone’s guess. The largest population is thought to survive in the dense forests of Chiloe Island, south of Puerto Montt. But there also is some good news: several new mainland individuals have been discovered in the past few years through the use of camera traps. I hope to use this technique later this year to record the presence of these critically endangered animals. I found this one several years ago on the edge of the forest in the highlands of Chiloe – the only animal I saw in a week of searching. #fox #wildlife #criticallyendangered #endangeredspecies #Chiloe #darwinsfox

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5. Giant Otter

It’s a one-two punch for the giant otter population. First, their numbers were cut significantly when they were hunted for their pelts. Once laws were enforced to protect them from hunters, they then faced threats to their South American habitats.

6. Hainan Gibbon

Perhaps the most endangered animal on this list, there are now only 28 Hainan Gibbons left in the world. Their dwindling numbers are blamed on the fact that about 95 percent of their natural habitat has been destroyed.

7. Madagascar’s Greater Bamboo Lemur

Of all the species of lemur, the Bamboo Lemur has the smallest population with only about 100 documented animals. They were actually already thought to be extinct until a scientist discovered another pocket of them in 1986.

8. Pangolin

Pangolins are considered one of the most trafficked mammals in the world. Roughly 100,000 of these cat-sized creatures are captured and moved each year.

9. Peruvian Spider Monkey

Found in the Amazon, the Peruvian Spider Monkey is another umbrella species, whose messy eating habits lead to scattered fruit seeds and regrowth of trees. Their population has decreased 50 percent since the 70s, due mostly to the destruction of their native habitat.

10. Pika

Only 7 to 8 inches long and found in the remote Xinjiang region of China, there are only about 1000 pika left in the world, thanks to climate change.

11. Red Wolves

It’s estimated that only 25 to 40 red wolves are left roaming wild. They mostly reside in Eastern North Carolina, despite the fact that not that long ago, they roamed as far south as Florida. Fun fact: They mate for life.

12. Saola

Referred to as the “Asian unicorn,” the saola has only been spotted in the wild four times. They live in Laos and Vietnam.

13. Sumatran Rhino

While multiple species of rhino are endangered, thanks to poachers after their horns, the Sumatran Rhino has the worst number. Very few reside in the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Captive breeding programs have been mostly unsuccessful, producing only two offspring in some 15 years.

14. Vaquita

Only roughly 60 vaquitas remain in the world today. Relatives of dolphins and whales, these cuties only grow to about five feet long. They’ve seen a near 40 percent decrease in population of the last five years, thanks to illegal fishing activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

15. White-Rumped Vulture

This particular species of vulture has seen a population decrease of 99 percent since the 1980s. They feed on cows and their decline is often blamed on Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory often found in bovine carcasses.

16. Gobi Bear

A native of the Gobi desert in Mongolia, the Gobi bear was declared as critically endangered by the Mongolian Redbook of Endangered Species and by the Zoological Society of London as there were only 30 known adults in 2009. They are genetically isolated enough from other brown bears to consider them in reproductive isolation.

17. Seneca White Deer

Numbering at 300 total, the Seneca white deer are leucitic, which means they lack pigmentation in their skin but still have brown eyes. They have been given protected status and space at the former Seneca Army Depot and are actually open to viewings from the public.