Despite animals being loved by almost everyone in the entire world, humans are still their biggest threat to survival.
In this article, we’ll take a look at not only the top 10 rarest animals in the world but also the top 10 most endangered.
Every animal on this list is endangered, and in desperate need of conservation otherwise, we could lose them permanently.
10 – The Purple frog – First on our list of the rarest animals in the world
Native to India, purple frogs spend most of their lives underground. They will only emerge for a few days each year to breed. These species are likely evolving independently for almost a hundred million years but have been inducted into the scientific community only recently, formally described in 2003. These frogs are already facing the threat of extinction due to deforestation. However, it’s hard to determine their exact population because of their introverted lifestyle.
9 – Black-footed Ferret – a success story for conservationists
The black-footed ferrets are among those species that have been touted as a conservation success story since they have come back from extinction status twice with the help of conservationists. These species are native to the Great Plains of North America and are roughly the size of a mink and similar in appearance to the European polecats. Throughout the 20th Century, their population has sharply declined, and they were declared extinct in 1979. But a few years later, they were re-discovered in Wyoming. Since then, a captive breeding program was launched and was mostly a success. Still, their population remains at around 300, making them one of the rarest animals in the world.
8 – Spoon-billed sandpiper – one of the rarest birds in the world
Threatened fiercely by extinction, there are only less than a hundred spoon-billed sandpipers left in the world. These birds are known for their striking bill and breast, with varying amounts of dark spotting extending towards their white belly. At least half of the remaining population of the spoon-billed sandpipers are in Myanmar’s Bay of Martaban, where subsistence hunting using nets is common. These nets end up capturing and killing these vulnerable birds. Hunting, common in the country’s poorest community, is considered the biggest threat to these species.
7. Peruvian Spider Monkey – The rarest primate in the world
Compared to other monkey species, the Peruvian spider monkeys are relatively large. Their muscular tails can go up to a meter long, while their fur and face are black. They have four elongated fingers and have virtually no thumb, typical for spider monkeys yet unusual for other monkeys. The exact number of the Peruvian spider monkey’s total population is unknown. Yet, they are considered Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and their population is said to be rapidly declining.
6. Red Wolf – The comeback kids of the rarest animals list
The red wolf is one of the most threatened species in the world and was declared extinct in the wild by 1980. However, the US Government reintroduced it in 1987 in Eastern North Carolina. The reintroduction has been successful in that more than 150 red wolves have eventually been established in the region. However, their rapid growth brought about concerns over crossbreeding with coyotes and conflicts among area landowners. Because of this, the US federal government reduced the programs to cover only those federal lands in the easternmost part of North Carolina. Right now, the population of red wolves is believed to be declining.
5. Amur leopard – AKA the Far East Leopard
Only around 100 Amur leopards are left in the wild, making them one of Earth’s most endangered big cats. With a unique patterned coat of black specks and splodges, Amur leopards are easily distinguishable from the other leopards. Also known as the Far East leopards, these cats live in the temperate forests of China and Russia. However, it’s extremely rare to see these elusive cats these days. Habitat loss due to logging, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade is to blame for the decline of these beautiful cats, making them one of the rarest animals in the world.
4. Saola – the Asian Unicorn
Of all the animals on this list of the rarest animals in the world, the saola is probably the most mysterious. Often dubbed the “Asian Unicorn”, little is known about these rare breeds of mammals. Native to Vietnam, these animals have long and parallel horns. They resemble an antelope, but they are technically related to cattle. Population estimates of saola vary from as little as 25 to as many as 750. But researchers believe that their actual population is much lower and is likely less than 250.
3. Javan rhinoceros – Third rarest animal in the world
The Javan rhino is a critically endangered rhino that exists solely within a nature preserve found on the island of Java in Indonesia. No other herds exist anywhere other than at the Ujung Kulon National Park where the population appears to have been stabilized. This is likely because they are being guarded around the clock by Rhino Protection Units. Due to this security, there has not been any poaching in the Ujung Kulon nature preserve for over 20 years.
Poachers often target the Javan rhino for its horn’s resale value due to its use in Asian medicine. Another entirely unique threat facing the species is a palm plant named langkap that kills certain vegetation such as the rhinos preferred diet. Currently, the Javan rhino’s population is estimated to be around 60, with only around 18 of them being mature adults capable of breeding.
2. South China Tiger – The second rarest animal in the world
Unfortunately, the South China Tiger is one of the most threatened and rarest animals in the world. Scientists have declared these species functionally extinct in the wild. While there are no longer South China Tigers left in the wild, there are about a hundred of them in captivity as part of the various breeding programs in China. The first South China Tiger born outside of China was in 2007 in a private reserve in South Africa known as the Laohu Valley Reserve. Since then, several other South China Tigers have been born in the same place.
1. Vaquita – Top of our list for the rarest animal in the world
The vaquita is an exceptionally rare porpoise that lives exclusively in the northern corner of the Gulf of California, Mexico. It is officially the rarest animal in the world, and possibly even the most endangered as it is expected that it will be completely extinct within a decade.
In 1997, the population was recorded as 567, since then it has declined to its current state of only about 10 individuals left in the wild, and none in captivity. The species’ population has been low ever since they were discovered in 1958.
The Vaquita is the smallest of all the porpoises and also has the longest average length of births, which is almost double. This among other things such as the unregulated use of gill nets for illegal fishing operations contributes towards their declining populations. Since there are none in captivity, and none currently taking part in any successful breeding programs, it is unlikely that their numbers will go back up.