Critically Endangered Species

Critically endangered species are at a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild or extinct. For an animal to be added to the category, it must meet any of the following criteria regarding population or habitat decline:

Rapid Population Reduction

  • A taxon’s population size is reduced by 90 percent or more over 10 years or three generations, whichever is longer, and the reduction causes are understood, reversible, and have stopped. For example, let’s pretend there’s a bird species that traditionally had a population of 2000. Over 10 years, it drops to 200 because a logging company demolished its habitat. If laws are put in place that bar the logging company from continuing to fell trees in the habitat, then the IUCN will list it as “critically endangered” because the reason for the decline is understood and ceased.
  • A taxon’s population size is reduced by 80 percent or more over 10 years or three generations, whichever is longer, but the reduction cause may not be understood or reversible. For example, let’s say there’s a bird species that traditionally had a population size of 2000. Over 10 years, it drops to 400. However, scientists can’t figure out why they’re dying off. In this case, the IUCN would list it as “critically endangered” because the decimation is evident, but scientists can’t figure out why.
  • A taxon’s population size is reduced by 80 percent or more over 10 years or three generations, whichever is longer, and the animal is also battling habitat shrinkage or another threat.

Geographic Reduction

The area where a species can live is reduced to 100 square kilometers or less, or the area that the species currently and actually occupies is reduced to 10 square kilometers, and at least two of the following criteria are also met:

  • The population is known to exist in only one location.
  • Scientists observe or predict that the habitat will continue to shrink or be degraded, and there’s also a decline in subpopulations or the number of reproducing adults.
  • Scientists observe extreme fluctuations in the number of locations, subpopulations, or the number of reproducing adults.

Dangerously Low Number of Adults

  • A taxon’s population only has 250 or fewer adults left, and a 25 percent decline is anticipated within three years or one generation, whichever is longer. If none of the taxon’s subpopulations contain more than 50 adults, or 90 percent of the species’ adults live in one subpopulation, it will qualify as critically endangered.
  • Scientists observe extreme fluctuations in the number of mature adults in a given population.

Dangerously Low Overall Population Size

Only 50 or fewer individuals of a taxon remain.

Expected Rapid Decline

Research and studies indicate that there’s a 50 percent or greater chance that the taxon will be extinct in the wild within 10 years or three generations, whichever is longer.

How many species are currently critically endangered?

In the latest iteration of the list, 3,947 taxons — aka scientifically accepted units of species — are classified in the critically endangered category.

Critically Endangered Species

A Amur Leopard
Amur Leopard

The Amur leopard may be the rarest big cat on Earth!

A Baiji
Baiji

Baijis use echolocation to find food in the Yangtze River.

A Beluga Sturgeon
Beluga Sturgeon

The beluga sturgeon is one of the largest bony fish in the world!

A Black Rhinoceros
Black Rhinoceros

Horns can grow to 1.5m!

A Blobfish
Blobfish

One of the ugliest creatures in existence!

A Bornean Orang-utan
Bornean Orang-utan

Known to use large leaves as umbrellas!

A Borneo Elephant
Borneo Elephant

The smallest species of elephant!

A Canadian Horse
Canadian Horse

Canadian horses are believed to generate more power per pound of body weight than any other horse breed in the world.

A Chinese Paddlefish
Chinese Paddlefish

The Chinese paddlefish is one the largest freshwater fish in the world

A Coelacanth
Coelacanth

The coelacanth first evolved almost 400 million years ago.

A Cotton-top Tamarin
Cotton-top Tamarin

Found in tropical forest edges!

A Cross River Gorilla
Cross River Gorilla

Less than 300 remaining!

A Eastern Gorilla
Eastern Gorilla

The largest primate in the world!

A Gharial
Gharial

Found in the murky waters of Northern India!

A Hornbill
Hornbill

The bird has a massive horn on its bill!

A Ivory-billed woodpecker
Ivory-billed woodpecker

The ivory-billed woodpecker can drill into wood with its sharp beak

A Javan Rhinoceros
Javan Rhinoceros

Only has a 25cm long horn!

A Monte Iberia Eleuth
Monte Iberia Eleuth

The smallest frog in the Northern Hemisphere!

A Orang-utan
Orang-utan

Shares 97% of its DNA with humans!

A Pied Tamarin
Pied Tamarin

Only found in one area of Brazil!

A Radiated Tortoise
Radiated Tortoise

The most protected tortoise in the world!

A Red Wolf
Red Wolf

Only 100 in the wild!

A Saiga
Saiga

Large noses help filter out dust

A Saola
Saola

Only known to science since 1992!

A Sawfish
Sawfish

Sawfish teeth keep growing as the fish gets older

A Sturgeon
Sturgeon

Large species can swallow whole salmon

A Sumatran Elephant
Sumatran Elephant

Less than 2,000 left in the wild!

A Sumatran Orang-utan
Sumatran Orang-utan

Known to make mental maps of the forest!

A Sumatran Rhinoceros
Sumatran Rhinoceros

The smallest species of rhino!

A Tapanuli Orang-utan
Tapanuli Orang-utan

Inhabits an isolated mountain range in northwestern Sumatra!

A Vaquita
Vaquita

Smallest cetacean in the ocean

A Western Gorilla
Western Gorilla

There are two sub-species!

A Western Lowland Gorilla
Western Lowland Gorilla

One of the great apes!

List of Critically Endangered Species