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  • Molly Weinfurter

What is the Rarest Animal in the World?

There are lots of animals that are abundant in the world, such as many deer and squirrel species. However, there are lots of extremely rare animals that you can’t easily find in the wild or captivity. Sadly, it’s because those species are endangered or critically endangered, meaning their population is low or on a steep decline. So, what is the rarest animal in the world? And is there a way for us to save rare species?


vaquita fin out of water

What is the Rarest Animal in the World?

Currently, the rarest living animal species is the vaquita. While many critically endangered animals have dozens or even hundreds of individuals left, vaquitas are thought to only have 10 individuals left on Earth. Vaquitas will likely go extinct within the next few years if we don’t act fast.


(If you’ve never heard of a vaquita before, keep reading to find out more about them and other rare animals)


List of Rarest Animals on Earth

The following animals are some of the rarest on Earth today, with populations of less than 300. All these species are critically endangered as of the last time this article was updated.


1. Vaquita

two vaquitas swimming

How Many Are Left?: 10


Vaquitas are small porpoises that are native to the north side of the Gulf of California. Illegal fishing gear and pollution are the main reasons the population numbers are so low. To help support conservation efforts, you can “adopt” a vaquita by donating to the Porpoise Conservation Society. 


2. Hainan Gibbon

Hainan gibbon sihouette

How Many Are Left?: 37


Hainan gibbons are currently the rarest primates in the world. In the 1950s, there were about 2,000 of these mammals, but that number rapidly declined into the single digits because of hunting and habitat loss. The few remaining Hainan gibbons now live in a small section of the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park on Hainan Island, China. You can donate to ZSL to help with their Hainan gibbon conservation project and the conservation of other endangered species.


3. Sumatran Rhino

How Many Are Left?: 34 to 47


Sumatran rhinos have faced lots of struggles throughout their time on Earth. Thousands of years ago, their population greatly declined due to climate change. In recent decades, habitat loss and fragmentation have contributed to their increased population decline. They currently only live in a few areas of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. To help with their conservation, you can donate to Save the Rhino.


4. Addax

white addax in field

How Many Are Left?: 30 to 90


Drought, hunting, and loss of habitat are all reasons this species is so rare. These animals used to be abundant across the Sahara Desert, but now, they only live in Chad, Mauritania, and Niger. If you want to prevent these animals from going extinct, you can donate to the Sahara Conservation to help Addax and other species native to the massive desert.


5. Javan Rhino

How Many Are Left?: 76


Javan rhinos live on the island of Java in Indonesia. Poaching and habitat destruction are the main causes of this species’ decline. With a limited suitable habitat available, inbreeding is common, which can harm the health of these rhinos. Donating to Save the Rhino can help with the conservation of this species.


6. Northern River Terrapin

How Many Are Left?: Less than 100


These reptiles are currently native to Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar. While their biggest threat is habitat destruction, other factors, such as hunting, dams, overfishing, and climate change, could play a role in the species’ decline too. Donating to the Turtle Survival Alliance can help northern river terrapins and other turtle species.


7. Amur Leopard

endangered amur leopard at sanctuary

How Many Are Left?: 100


The Amur leopard population has been critical for decades. In the 1970s, it dipped as low as 30 individuals remaining, but some conservation efforts have helped the population increase to about 100. Even with improvements, this species is still critically endangered because habitat loss, poaching, and inbreeding are negatively affecting them. They currently only live in a small area on the border of China and Russia. To help Amur leopards and other big cats, you can donate to WildCats Conservation Alliance.


8. Red Wolf

red wolf pup with mom

How Many Are Left?: Less than 250


Only 15 to 17 red wolves remain in their natural habitat in North Carolina. However, about 241 live in captive breeding facilities across the United States in an attempt to save the species. Predator control programs and habitat alterations caused the population to drastically decline in the early 20th century. To help these wolves, you can donate to Red Wolf Coalition.


9. Kākāpō

How Many Are Left?: 247


Kākāpō is a large parrot species native to mainland New Zealand. Hunting and habitat loss are the main causes of this species’ decline. However, invasive species in the area have also posed a severe risk to these birds. Conservation efforts have been around since 1894, but this species is still on the brink of extinction. The Department of Conservation has a kākāpō recovery program that you can donate to.


10. Cross River Gorilla

How Many Are Left?: Less than 300


Hunting and habitat loss are the two main reasons for the decline of cross river gorillas. These primates are native to Cameroon and Nigeria, living in at least 11 remaining groups. They’re incredibly cautious around humans, which is why researchers have had a hard time getting an exact count of the population. You can donate to the Cross River Gorilla Programme to help with their conservation.


11. Saola

How Many Are Left?: Less than 750


Saolas are antelope-like creatures that are related to cows. They’re currently only found in Laos and Vietnam. No formal surveys have been done to determine their population, but there are no more than 750 saolas currently in existence. The exact number is likely much less than that, considering that no saolas are kept in captivity. They’re often hunted for their horns or caught in traps meant for other animals. Like other rare animals, they’re also threatened by habitat loss. Save the Saola is one of the many groups you can donate to for saola conservation.


How Can We Help the Rarest Animals in the World?

There are lots of ways to help endangered animals, but nothing is an instant fix. We all need to work together to help these animal populations increase or remain stable. Many animals are endangered because humans are destroying their habitats with development and pollution. 


Volunteering at nature centers and wildlife refuges can make an impact. If more people reuse and recycle products, those items are less likely to end up in the environment. Also, you should never purchase items made from vulnerable animal products, such as ivory, which commonly comes from elephant teeth and tusks. 


If you want to help an animal species that isn’t in your area, you can donate to their conservation efforts. For example, all the animals listed above have links to places you can donate to.


Plus, education is crucial. Many people don’t realize that parts of their daily lives could be contributing to the declining populations of certain animals. So, spreading the word can help more people be aware of their actions and hopefully make a change to create a positive impact on wild animals and their environments.


endangered addax by log

Frequently Asked Questions


What Rare Animals Live in the Rainforest?

The rainforests are filled with rare, endangered animals, such as jaguars, golden lion tamarins, giant otters, tapirs, and Amazon river dolphins. It can be hard to spot animals in the rainforest because of how dense the trees and plants are.


Are Endangered Animals Better Off in Zoos?

Many endangered animals are safer in captivity because they have little to no natural environments left in the wild. For example, axolotls are critically endangered in the wild because their natural habitat is no longer safe for them, but their captive population is thriving. Conservation zoos can ensure these animals are protected to prevent them from going extinct.


Can Endangered Animals Be Cloned?

Yes, endangered animals can be cloned. However, researchers don’t rely on cloning because there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done on the negative health effects and reproductive abilities.


Why are Big Animals Rare?

Big animals are rare because they need a lot of food to survive. If food is scarce for that species, not all of them will live. Thus, animals going extinct can negatively affect the food chain, causing more species to suffer.


Why are Albino Animals Rare?

Albinism is a recessive trait, which is why it’s uncommon for animals. It can take about 10,000 births for one animal to be albino. While albino animals are beautiful, they’re often more prone to health concerns like vision problems.


Why are Blue Animals Rare?

Blue is the rarest color in nature. It’s rare in nature because animals can't have a true blue pigment. Instead, blue animals look blue because of the way light reflects off them.


Don’t Let the Rarest Animals Go Extinct!

The rarest creatures in the world are often some of the most beautiful, incredible animals. Unfortunately, the reason they’re so rare is because humans have caused their populations to decline drastically. Habitat loss, hunting, and pollution are all common reasons that animals become critically endangered.


If humans don’t do better soon, a lot of endangered animals will go extinct in the near future. To help, donate to animal conservation efforts or find ways to make the environment a better place, such as picking up litter and reusing items instead of throwing them away. Even small efforts can make the world a better place for animals.

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