Endangered Species of Animals

We outline the main threats to animals on the list of endangered species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We list critically endangered creatures - the animals most in danger of extinction - along with vulnerable and near-threatened species.
Chimpanzees: One of Africa's Endangered Species
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Uganda. Photo: USAID Africa Bureau.

As this list of endangered animal species shows, the planet’s biodiversity is under threat. Over the past 50 years, humans have wiped out 60 percent of the world’s animals, by damaging the biomes and habitats that sustain them. Scientists are calling it the sixth mass extinction. 1 2

In South and Central America, the loss of biodiversity is even higher – 89 percent. And in some regions, insect populations have suffered a 75 percent loss in less than three decades. 3

As a result, the world’s leading experts are warning that the annihilation of wildlife is now a global emergency, on a par with our climate crisis. Actually, it’s worse, because unlike climate change, all extinction is irreversible. All this is one reason why environmentalists are calling for our present era to be renamed the Anthropocene epoch, to reflect the enormous impact of human actions on ecosystems around the world.


10 Endangered Animals
10 Endangered Birds of Prey
10 Iconic Birds Threatened by Climate Change

What Are The Main Threats To Animals on The List of Endangered Species?

The most authoritative answer to this can be found in IUCN’s “Threats Classification Scheme (Version 3.2)” (2019) 4 which has been adopted by major international conservation bodies including: the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, the US Nature Conservancy, and BirdLife International.

The 11 major threats to biodiversity conservation, as listed by IUCN, can be briefly summarized as follows:

  1. Commercial/residential development
  2. Farming
  3. Mining – see: Environmental Effects of Fossil Fuels.
  4. Roads, pipelines
  5. Deforestation, fishing, hunting and other biological exploitation
  6. Human encroachments: from civil war to tourism
  7. Modifications to natural geography: dams, reclamation
  8. Invasive species, pathogens & pesticides
  9. Chemical pollution: domestic, industrial, agricultural
  10. Natural catastrophes: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, avalanches, landslides
  11. Man-made global warming on land & sea. Submergence of shoreline ecosystems, ocean acidification, terrestrial & marine heatwaves, freezing spells, droughts, thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes, and dust storms. For more about climate and its impact on animal habitats, see: Effects of Climate Change on Animals.

• For more about loss of forest habitat and its impact on wildlife, see: the Congo Rainforest.
• For more about the rainforest biome, see: The Amazon Rainforest.

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. An Endangered Species.
African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) in Samburu National Reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river in Kenya. Appearing on the IUCN’s list of endangered species in 2016, its population was estimated at 6,600 adults, of which 1,400 were reproductive. Scientists fear that the species’ decline will continue, due mainly to the shrinkage of its habitat and disease. As usual, rising temperatures and the consequent reduction in the water supply makes the situation worse. For example, research shows that the climate is getting too hot for African wild dogs to hunt, and the percentage of pups that survive is declining rapidly. 5 Photo: © Sumeet Moghe/CC BY-SA 3.0

How Many Species Of Wildlife Are Threatened?

The world’s most authoritative source of information and statistics on the conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species, is the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2019-3). 6 Established way back in 1964, it employs a set of scientific criteria – relevant to all species and all regions of the world – to assess the extinction risk of more than 112,000 species and sub-species. According to the Red List, 30,000 of these are threatened with extinction. In other words, around 27 percent of all assessed species are in danger.

A broader view was taken by IPBES’s Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report (2019) Instead of just focusing on assessed species, IPBES reviewed all the 8.1 million known (but not assessed) species of wildlife in the world, and estimates that one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. 7

How Are Species Assessed?

In order to assess the extinction risk of a given species, the IUCN’s list of endangered species examines a number of factors that affect the likelihood of its survival, including:

  • Its population-size
  • Its rate of population decline
  • Its geographical location & range
  • Its breeding success rates
  • Any known threats: human, biological or climate

Once evaluated, it is placed into one of several categories:

  • Extinct
    No known individuals remaining.
  • Extinct in the wild
    Known only to live in captivity.
  • Critically Endangered
    Extremely high risk of extinction, immediate future.
  • Endangered
    Very high risk of extinction in the near future.
  • Vulnerable
    High risk of extinction in the medium term.
  • Near Threatened
    Likely to become endangered in the near future.
  • Least Concern
    Species at lowest risk.

The numbers in each category on the Red List (2019-3) are as follows:

Table 1. Threatened Species by Category (2019)

Extinct 877
Extinct in the Wild 73
Critically Endangered 6,413
Endangered 10,629
Vulnerable 13,136
Near Threatened 6,826
Least Concern 57,931
Data Deficient 16,355
Total No. of Species Assessed112,432

Source: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2019-3). Note: Species deemed to be “threatened” are all those categorized as endangered, critically endangered and vulnerable. That is, a total of 30,178. (27 percent of the 112,00 assessed.)

Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei), large type of lizard. A critically endangered species.
The Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei) is a large type of lizard in the Iguanidae family. Unique to Jamaica, it is the largest native land animal in the country. Although at one time it was found throughout Jamaica and on the offshore Great Goat Island and Little Goat Island, it is now only seen in the dry, rocky forests of the Hellshire Hills, which forms part of the Portland Bight Protected Area. Like all rock iguanas (Cyclura species) the Jamaican iguana is mostly herbivorous, consuming flowers, leaves and fruits from dozens of different plant species. The Jamaican iguana population declined dramatically during the second half of the 19th century, after the introduction of the Indian mongoose to control the local snakes and rats. From 1948 to 1990, it was thought to be extinct. After its rediscovery in 1990, a study showed only that there were only 50 survivors. 8 Today, the IUCN classifies it as a Critically Endangered Species. Photo: © RGB/CC BY-SA 2.0

Which Animals Are In Most Danger?

The types of animals and plants most at risk in the biosphere, are the following:

Table 2. Most Threatened Species (2019)

Species% Under Threat
Cycads (tropical seed plants) 63%
Amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders) 41%
Dicots (magnolias, birches, cacti) 36%
Reptiles (turtles, crocodiles, alligators) 35%
Conifers 34%
Reef-forming corals 33%
Sharks, rays & chimeras 30%
Crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, shrimps) 27%
Bony fishes8%
Gastropods (cone snails) 7%
Cephalopods (octopuses, squids 1.5%

Source: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2019-3)

Two black rhinos in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
Two black rhinos (mother and calf) in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya. The black rhinoceros or hook-lipped rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is native to eastern and southern Africa, including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Although referred to as black, its actual color varies from brown to grey. A critically endangered species, it is particularly vulnerable to illegal poaching, and decrease in habitat. In 1900 there were several hundred thousand living in Africa. By 2004 only 2,410 black rhinos were thought to be alive in the wild. By 2019 this had risen to 5,500. Climate change adds to the pressure by shrinking habitats and forcing species to compete for food and water. Photo: © Harald Zimmer/CC BY-SA 3.0.

List of Wildlife Threatened With Extinction

Here are the main categories of the Red List, with some examples of the animals under threat.

Critically Endangered Species of Wildlife

The species on this list face an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future.

  • Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)
  • African wild ass (Equus africanus)
  • Alabama cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni)
  • Amsterdam albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis)
  • Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)
  • Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)
  • Arakan forest turtle (Heosemys depressa)
  • Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus),
  • Axolot (Ambystoma mexicanum)
  • Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus)
  • Black rhino (Diceros bicornis)
  • Blue-fronted lorikeet (Charmosyna toxopei)
  • Blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis; previously Ara caninde)
  • Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
  • Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus)
  • Brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus)
  • Californian condor (Gymnogyps californianus)
  • Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra)
  • Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis)
  • Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)
  • Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli)
  • Eastern Lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)
  • Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)
  • Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi, formerly Monachus schauinslandi)
  • Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
  • Imperial woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis)
  • Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)
  • Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
  • Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
  • Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri)
  • Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)
  • Northwest African cheeta (Acinonyx jubatus hecki)
  • Northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii)
  • Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)
  • Red-throated lorikeet (Charmosyna amabilis)
  • Red wolf (Canis lupus rufus or Canis rufus)
  • Ruck’s blue flycatcher (Cyornis ruckii)
  • Saiga (Saiga tatarica)
  • Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)
  • Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis)
  • Spix’s macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii)
  • Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii)
  • Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus)
  • Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii)
  • Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
  • Sunda tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)
  • Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena)
  • Turquoise dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi)
  • Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)
  • Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
  • Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer)
  • Yangtze Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis)

Endangered Species of Wildlife

The species on this list face a very high risk of extinction in the near future:

  • African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
  • African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • Amur tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
  • Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
  • Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus)
  • Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) (India)
  • Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)
  • Bluefin tuna (Thunnus Thynnus)
  • Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
  • Bonobo (Pan paniscus)
  • Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
  • Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
  • Dhole (Cuon alpinus)
  • Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis)
  • Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
  • Flores crow (Corvus florensis)
  • Hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus)
  • Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
  • Giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
  • Goliath frog (Conraua goliath)
  • Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus)
  • Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi)
  • Humblot’s heron (Ardea humbloti)
  • Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)
  • Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)
  • Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)
  • Japanese crane (Grus japonensis)
  • Japanese night heron (Gorsachius goisagi)
  • Lear’s macaw (Anodorhynchus leari)
  • Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
  • Malagasy pond heron (Ardeola idae)
  • Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus)
  • Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
  • Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
  • North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
  • Purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus)
  • Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis)
  • Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
  • Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa rothschildi)
  • Sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki)
  • Sea otter (Enhydra lutris)
  • South Andean deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus)
  • Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus)
  • Takhi (Przewalski’s horse) (Equus przewalskii)
  • Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)
  • Tiger (Panthera tigris)
  • Toque macaque (Macaca sinica)
  • Vietnamese pheasant (Lophura hatinhensis)
  • Volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi)
  • Wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee)
  • Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
  • White-eared night heron (Gorsachius magnificus)
  • Whooping crane (Grus americana)
  • Yellow headed amazon (Amazona oratrix)
Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys), also called Lafresnaye's Macaw
The beautiful colors of the Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys), sometimes known as Lafresnaye’s Macaw after the French ornithologist Frédéric de Lafresnaye. The Red-fronted Macaw is a species of parrot that is unique to a small and arid mountainous area of Bolivia, situated about 200 km west of Santa Cruz. It’s the only macaw to inhabit such a climatic zone. The bird’s average length is roughly 55–60 cm (21.5–23.5 in), while its plumage is mostly green, with a red forehead, and bright orange edging on its wing coverts. Its outer wing feathers are French blue. The natural vegetation of its habitat is mostly cactus (large and small) along with thorny trees and scrub. The desert-like climate offers cold nights and hot days. Precipitation takes the form of sporadic heavy rainstorms. Macaws usually nest in the hollows of large trees, however in this Bolivian ecosystem there are no very large trees to be seen, so the red-fronted macaw occupies vertical fissures in cliff faces. The species has a very small and declining population, estimated by IUCN at between 134-272 mature birds, and it is listed as critically endangered. Photo: © Frank Wouters/CC BY-SA 2.0

Vulnerable Species of Wildlife

Faces a high risk of extinction in the medium term:

  • African elephant (Loxodonta africana)
  • African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus)
  • American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
  • American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)
  • Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus)
  • Black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus)
  • Blue crane (Grus paradisea)
  • Blue-eyed cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica)
  • Blue headed macaw (Primolius couloni)
  • Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
  • Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
  • Dingo (Canis dingo)
  • Dugong (Dugong dugon)
  • Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis)
  • Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox)
  • Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra)
  • Gaur (Bos gaurus)
  • Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
  • Golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)
  • Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
  • Greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis)
  • Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis or sandwicensis)
  • Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
  • Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)
  • Hyacinth macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)
  • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • Lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus)
  • Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)
  • Maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus)
  • Marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)
  • Military macaw (Ara militaris)
  • Montserrat oriole (Icterus oberi)
  • Mountain zebra (Equus zebra)
  • Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
  • Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)
  • Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
  • Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus)
  • Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)
  • Takin (Budorcas taxicolor)
  • White-necked crow (Corvus leucognaphalus)
  • Yak (Bos mutus)

NOTE: Biodiversity in the plant kingdom is of critical importance for all life on Planet Earth, including animals and humans. Plants perform a vital role in the carbon cycle, through the process of photosynthesis, and also in the water cycle through the mechanism of transpiration, by which they release water vapor into the air. Soil also plays a vital role, as it supplies nutrients needed by plants and trees. See: Why is Soil So Important to the Planet?

Near-threatened Species of Wildlife

The species on this list are likely to become endangered in the near future:

  • Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga)
  • American bison (Bison bison)
  • Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii)
  • Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)
  • Blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis)
  • Emperor goose (Anser canagicus)
  • Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)
  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)
  • Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)
  • Jaguar (Panthera onca)
  • Larch Mountain salamander (Plethodon larselli)
  • Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis)
  • Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae)
  • Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)
  • Maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus)
  • Margay (Leopardus wiedii)
  • Mountain plover (Charadrius montanus)
  • Mountain solitary eagle (Buteogallus solitarius)
  • Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
  • Pampas catt (Leopardus colocola)
  • Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul)
  • Plains bison (Bison bison bison)
  • Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
  • Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
  • White eared pheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon)
  • White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
  • Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Species of Least Concern

No immediate threat to species’ survival:

  • Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus)
  • Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos)
  • Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • Blue and yellow macaw (Ara ararauna)
  • Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates)
  • Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus)
  • Brown bear (Ursus arctos)
  • Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)
  • Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
  • Canada goose (Branta canadensis)
  • Cane toad (Rhinella marina)
  • Common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)
  • Crocodile, freshwater (Crocodylus johnstoni)
  • Eurasian magpie (Pica pica)
  • Fiery-throated hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)
  • Grey wolf (Canis lupus)
  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
  • Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
  • Lesser bird of paradise (Paradisaea minor)
  • Louisiana bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)
  • Macaw (Ara ararauna)
  • Magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata)
  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Mute swan (Cygnus olor)
  • Olive baboon (Papio anubis)
  • Palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)
  • Red-billed quelea (Quelea quelea)
  • Red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus)
  • Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Rock pigeon (Columba livia)
  • Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
  • Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)
  • Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina)
  • Strawberry poison dart frog (Oophaga pumilio)
  • Wolverine (Gulo gulo)


  1. World Wildlife Fund. Living Planet Index 2018 []
  2. Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines.” Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, Rodolfo Dirzo. PNAS July 25, 2017. []
  3. More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.” Caspar A. Hallmann, et al; (2017) []
  4. IUCN Red List, Classification []
  5. Hot dogs: High ambient temperatures impact reproductive success in a tropical carnivore.” Rosie Woodroffe Rosemary Groom J. Weldon McNutt. July 19, 2017. []
  6. IUCN Red List []
  7. Read Dr Andy Purvis’s straightforward justification of this estimate, published by the UK’s Natural History Museum []
  8. Wilson, Byron et al (2004), “Survival and Reproduction of Repatriated Jamaican Iguanas”, Iguanas: Biology and Conservation, University of California Press, pp. 220–231, ISBN 978-0-520-23854-1 []
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