An endangered species is one whose numbers are so small that it is at risk of extinction.
2.A species is defined as endangered or threatened when it is suffers from these factors: damage to its habitat for recreational, or entertainment purposes; disease or predation of the species; and hazards to the continued life of the species.
3.A species is declared extinct after many years of not being spotted. Because it takes so long to define an entire species as extinct, it is probable that there are many species already gone that we are unaware of.
4.Rangers are on the frontlines of conservation to protect some of the world's most endangered species like tigers, elephants and rhinos. Send thank-you cards to those who protect endangered species. Sign up for Wildlife Cards!
5.Extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the “background” rate, with dozens going extinct every day.
As many as 30 to 50 percent of all species are possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.
7.99% of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming
8.The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects registered endangered species by removing them from the “take” list, which makes it unlawful for a person to shoot, harm, capture, trap, or attempt any such actions to the species.
9.Ultimately, the ESA strives to recover species from the endangered list by restoring their ecological health until they no longer need protection.
10.The World Wildlife Organization focuses on saving certain species that help sustain other species. They protect wildlife such as pandas, whales, rhinos, marine turtles, primates, polar bears, and big cats.
It’s hard to believe that many of the world’s best-known animals are fighting for survival. Today there are fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild. It would be a tragedy if tigers disappeared from the wild altogether, but it could happen in our lifetimes.
In the list of endangered animals below we’ve included not only well-known animals, but also animals you may never have heard of. The humphead wrasse or black-footed ferret may not be as famous as tigers and elephants, but their plight is every bit as serious.
This list is not definitive; sadly, there are many more species currently in danger. The information on this page is regularly updated. If there are any animals that you feel should be in this list but aren’t, do let us know in the comments below.
We have included links to further information about many of the animals, and also links to relevant charities. Click on the photos, or on the links, to find out more.
African wild dogs are found in Sub-Saharan Africa (the part of Africa south of the Sahara Desert). African wild dogs live in packs. They hunt at dawn and dusk, and chase prey such as Thomson’s gazelles.
Amur leopards are critically endangered. This leopard subspecies is found in Russia and parts of China. At one point there were only around twenty Amur leopards left in the wild.
Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants, and also have smaller, more rounded, ears and smoother skin. Asian elephants are endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.
This strange-looking amphibian has a couple of very special tricks up its sleeve (click the picture to find out what they are!). Sadly, much of the axolotl’s original habitat has been destroyed, and it is now critically endangered.
Black rhinos are critically endangered. They are found in Eastern and Central Africa. Despite their name, their colour ranges from brown to grey. Black rhinos can run at 50 km/h. They are hunted for their horns.
This list of endangered animals is not just about tigers and elephants: other, lesser-known creatures are in just as much trouble.
Black-footed ferrets are found in North America. They are members of the mustelid family, which includes weasels, badgers and wolverines. At one point in the 1980’s they were considered to be extinct in the wild. However, they have since been reintroduced, and there are now around 1,000 black-footed ferrets in the wild.
Blue whales are the largest creature ever to have lived on the Earth. They’re even bigger than the biggest dinosaurs. Blue whales can weigh up to 200 tons, but incredibly their diet consists solely of tiny crusteaceans called krill.
Bluefin tuna are fast and strong-swimming fish. There are three kinds of bluefin tuna: the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern. Bluefin are endangered due to overfishing.
Bonobos are very similar to chimpanzees, but are usually smaller, with longer legs and darker faces. They are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Africa.
The Borneo pygmy elephant is also known as the Borneo elephant. They live in the island of Borneo. Despite their name they are still large animals, just not as big as other elephants.
Chimpanzees live in the forests of central Africa. They are our nearest living relatives, sharing around 98% of our genes.
Fin Whales are large marine mammals. They are the second largest animal on the Earth, second only to blue whales. If you look at the lower jaw of a fin whale, you will see that the left side is black and the right side is white.
Galápagos Penguins live on the Galápagos islands, and are the only penguin found north of the equator. They are the second-smallest penguin: only the little penguin is smaller.
Galápagos sea lions are found on the Galápagos islands. There are around 20,000-50,000 Galápagos sea lions, which may seem alot, until you realise that more people go to an average premier league football game than there are Galápagos sea lions living in the wild.
Ganges river dolphins are freshwater dolphins found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers in Balngladesh, India and Nepal. These curious animals are virtually blind, and swim on their sides.
Giant pandas are bears that live in the forests of China. They live on bamboo. There are only around 3,000 giant pandas living in the wild today.
The humphead wrasse is a large fish that can reach up to 2m in length. It has big lips and a bulge on its forehead that gets bigger as the fish gets older. The humphead wrasse lives around coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region.
Leatherback turtles are the largest sea turtles and the only ones not to have a solid shell. Instead, leatherback turtles are protected by tough, oily skin on their backs. They are the fastest swimming and deepest diving of the sea turtles, and migrate long distances.
As their name suggests, mountain gorillas live in mountains and on dormant volcanoes. These great apes are well adapted to their environment and have thick, long coats which keep them warm when they are up high in the mountains. These peaceful creatures are critically endangered.
There are two kinds of orangutan, the Sumatran and Bornean. Both are endangered, the Sumatran critically so. Orangutans live mainly in the trees, and eat fruit and insects. Their name means ‘man of the forest’ in Malay.
A pangolin’s body is covered with scales made of keratin — the same substance that your fingernails are made of. There are 8 species of pangolin; four live in Africa, and four in Asia. They are all under threat, and two are critically endangered. Pangolins are hunted for food and for their scales.
Snow leopards live in the mountains of central Asia. They are adapted for living in the snow, being pale coloured, with thick fur and wide feet.
Spider monkeys live in the forests of Central and South america. They have long arms and prehensile tails. (Prehensile means able to grab things.) Spider monkeys are social and talkative animals. There are seven kinds of spider moneky, and all are threatened. The black-headed spider monkey and brown spider monkey are both critially endangered.
There are several subspecies (types) of tiger, and all are endangered. The Bengal tiger is the most numerous kind of tiger, yet there are only around 2,500 living in the wild.
It is hard to believe that one of the most world’s most recognisable animals is included in a list of endangered animals.
The Yangtze finless popoise’s close cousin, the Baiji dolphin, was declared extinct in 2006. Sadly, with only around 1,000 individuals left in the wild, the critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoise is also in danger of extinction.
1. The law was inspired, in large part, by the bald eagle.
In 1966, concern for our national bird—which had drastically decreased in population due to hunting, habitat loss, and the rampant use of the toxic pesticide DDT—motivated Congress to pass the Endangered Species Preservation Act. It stated that the U.S. Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense must protect listed species and their habitats. In 1973, after a series of amendments, this original framework expanded and evolved into the Endangered Species Act.
2. There’s a difference between “endangered” and “threatened.”
If a species is classified as “endangered,” it means it is in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range; it if is deemed “threatened,” it’s considered at risk of becoming endangered within the foreseeable future.
3. Plants outnumber animals.
At least when it comes to the number of endangered and threatened species in the United States. Most of those plants are flowering species, such as South Texas ambrosia and short-leaved rosemary.
4. Species are added to the list one of two ways.
Either biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service add candidates based on the findings of their own assessments, or they respond to a public petition. Under the act, anyone can submit a written petition, and you must be notified within 90 days whether your request warrants further research (and that must be completed within a year). Thirty days after a listing is added, it becomes effective.
5. It works.
The act doesn’t just stop the bleeding; it requires the federal government to prepare a recovery plan so that the listed species can be restored to a healthy population—and eventually come off the list. A whopping 99 percent of the species granted protection under the act have managed to survive until today, and a growing number—including the bald eagle, American peregrine falcon, Eggert’s sunflower, and red kangaroo—have recovered enough to be delisted, meaning they're no longer in danger.
6. Saving one species can save countless others.
Because each plant or animal is part of a larger ecosystem, preserving any one could create a ripple effect. The gray wolf is a great case study. When the species was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park—more than 20 years after being listed as endangered in 1974—the impact was far-reaching. The packs helped keep the elk population in check, which meant that willow and aspen trees were in less danger of being overeaten. The branches and leaves of those trees cooled the streams, which boosted the population of native trout, provided homes for migratory birds, and supplied more food for beavers. The dams built by the beavers created happier marshland habitat for otters, mink, and ducks. And the benefits go on and on.
7. Climate change is making the act even more important.
In 2008, the polar bear became the first species given protection under the Endangered Species Act due to the threat of global warming (melting sea ice, in this instance). In 2011, the whitebark pine became the first widely dispersed tree species to be designated as a candidate for endangered species protection, as it was threatened by pine beetles spreading to higher elevations due to warmer temperatures.
8. Congress consistently tries to weaken it.
Bills are regularly introduced to undermine the act. See the “Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act,” “Common Sense in Species Protection Act of 2015,” and the “21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act.” Much of this proposed legislation places short-term economic gain above long-term conservation efforts and demands changes (requiring state consent, for example) that would make it much more difficult to protect species. And sometimes other less-obvious bills—relating to the federal budget, defense, or food or water security—can have provisions that chip away at protections for specific species.
9. So do businesses.
Take the case of the coastal California gnatcatcher, a small gray bird in Southern California. Real-estate developers and toll road agencies have fought federal protection for this particular species, which picked a piece of pretty pricey land on which to built its nests. Some corporations have even filed a petition claiming the bird isn’t a valid subspecies to try to delist it.
10. You can help enforce it.
Write your lawmakers and tell them to vote against the most recent proposals that would gut the act. The law also includes a citizen suit provision, which means any person or organization can file a lawsuit to stop any party, including a governmental agency, that is in violation of the act.