5 critically endangered animal species with less than 100 living individuals

Amur leopard in Pittsburgh Zoo - Colin Hines (CY. BY.2.0)

Last month China lifted a ban on the scientific and medical use of tiger bones and rhino horn. The ban would have had devasting consequences for the endangered species, but after many protests from conservation groups, China decided to postpone the lifting of this ban.

The World Wide Fund for nature recently shared reports that surveyed animal populations have declined by more than 50 percent on average in the last two generations. These five animal species are now so critically endangered, that less than 100 individuals are alive.

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Tambako (CC.BY.2.0)

Amur Leopard
Estimated that there are only some 84 individuals alive, the Amur Leopard is critically endangered. Like other leopards the Amur leopard can run up to 60 kilometres per hour and takes horizontal leaps up to 5.7 meters. Special about this leopard is that it only lives in the far East part of Russia, and not in Africa like most other leopards. The Amur leopard is also known as the Far East Leopard, the Korean leopard or the Manchurian leopard. In the wild they usually live for 10-15 years, in captivity this can be 20 years. Unfortunately many of them never get this old, like for so many other species poachers form the biggest threat for the Amur Leopard. It’s poached largely for its spotted fur, which can bring up a lot of money on the black market.

Darren Swim (CC.BY.2.0)

Javan Rhino
After the White rhino, which is now basically extinct since there are only two females alive, the Javan rhino is the most critically endangered rhinoceros. With a population of about 58-68 individuals, the Javan rhino only lives in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia. It used to live in Northern India and Southeast Asia, but the last rhino in Vietnam was killed in 2010 by poachers. The Javan rhino has one horn and an appearance as if it is wearing an armour, because of loos folds on the skin.

This animal only exists in the wild, none are held in captivity and it is rarely ever seen. The Saola was only recently discovered but already on the edge of extinction. It’s unknown how many of them are still alive, estimated is between a couple dozen and a few hundred as maximum. The Soala has two horns with sharp ends at the top of his head,  which can grow to a half a meter in length, they can also be recognized by the white markings on the face. The Soala only lives in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos in Eastern Asia.

The Vaquita is a cetacean (family of whales) and so critically endangered that only about 30 individuals are still alive in the northern Gulf of California, in the West coast of the United States. This smaller version of the porpoise was only discovered in 1958, but is now so rare that we are close to losing them forever. This because they often get caught in fishnets and drown. The Vaquita can be recognized by the large dark rings around its eyes. Most often they can be found close to shore in the Gulf’s shallow waters, but they quickly swim away if boats approach.

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J. Patrick Fisher (CC.BY.2.0)

South China Tiger
The South China Tiger is so critically endangered that is considered extinct in the wild, since it hasn’t been spotted for over 25 years. The reason for this, like it is for so many other species: hunters. The subspecies was hunted as a pest, in 1996 it was estimated that the population was between 30-80 tigers. Today it’s expected that the tiger is ‘functionally extinct’ and only still lives in captivity.


Text: Lune Bernstein, picture Colin Hines (CC.BY.2.0)