15 Animals on the Critically Endangered List That Require Your Attention

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Endangered animals symbolize our shared responsibility for Mother Nature’s well-being. Their precarious existence highlights the profound impact of human actions on the natural world. 

From the Sumatran tiger to the elusive Amur leopard, each species plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance and enriching our world with diversity. Protecting endangered animals is not just a moral obligation; it’s essential for preserving ecosystems and securing Planet Earth’s future. 

Embracing sustainable practices and fostering coexistence with nature are crucial steps towards creating a world where these 15 critically endangered species can thrive.

1. Javan Rhino

javan rhino
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Javan rhinos have experienced a dramatic decline in their population due to extensive hunting and significant habitat loss. This critically endangered species now has a lone wild population of approximately 75, making it one of the rarest rhino species in the world.

These remaining Javan rhinos are confined to the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia, their last refuge. This population’s survival is precarious, as their limited habitat and small numbers leave them highly vulnerable to disease, natural disasters, and genetic bottlenecks. Conservation efforts are crucial to prevent the extinction of this incredible species.

2. Amur Leopard

amur leopard
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While leopards are typically associated with African savannas, a rare subspecies, the Amur leopard thrives in the temperate forests of the Russian Far East. Capable of running up to 37 miles per hour, this agile animal can leap over 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically. Amur leopards are strong, agile, and solitary by nature.

Remarkably, some males stay with females post-mating and may help rear the young. These leopards, also known as Far East, Manchurian, or Korean leopards, live 10-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

3. Sunda Tiger

sunda tiger
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Sunda tigers, known for their bold black stripes on orange coats, are struggling to survive in the shrinking forests of Sumatra. Accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching threaten to drive them to extinction, like their Javan and Balinese counterparts. In Indonesia, hunting tigers can result in jail time and hefty fines. 

Despite increased conservation efforts and stronger law enforcement, a significant market for tiger parts persists in Sumatra and other parts of Asia. With rapid habitat and prey loss, Sunda tigers face a constant threat from poaching.

4. Eastern Lowland Gorilla

eastern lowland gorilla
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The eastern lowland gorilla, or Grauer’s gorilla, is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. It is recognized for its stocky build, large hands, and short muzzle. Despite their size, these gorillas primarily eat fruit and herbaceous plants. Years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have severely impacted their population and habitat.

Once ranging over 8,100 square miles, they now occupy about 4,600 square miles, just 13% of their historical range. From nearly 17,000 in the mid-1990s, their numbers have declined by over 50%. Poaching remains a significant threat, even in protected areas like Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

5. Bornean Orangutan

bornean organgutan
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Bornean orangutan populations have halved in the last 60 years, and habitat has shrunk by 55% over two decades. Visually distinct from Sumatran orangutans, Bornean orangutans have broader faces, shorter beards, and darker hues. 

Three subspecies are identified as the Northwest Bornean orangutan, which faces a severe threat with only about 1,500 left in the wild. Northeast Bornean orangutans, the smallest subspecies, inhabit Sabah and eastern Kalimantan, and the Central Bornean orangutans are the most numerous. Their population exceeds 35,000 individuals despite ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation.

6. Yangtze Finless Porpoise

yangtze finless porpoise
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Once home to two distinct dolphin species—the Baiji and the Yangtze finless porpoise—the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest, witnessed a tragic event in 2006. The Baiji dolphin was declared functionally extinct, marking the first time a dolphin species vanished entirely due to human impact.

Its close relative, the Yangtze finless porpoise, known for its playful grin, survives. Despite this, its intelligence rivals that of a gorilla. This loss underscores the devastating consequences of human activity on delicate ecosystems, prompting urgent conservation efforts to protect the remaining biodiversity of the Yangtze River.

7. Black Rhino

african black rhinos
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Black rhinos, smaller than white rhinos, can be distinguished by their hooked upper lips, allowing them to browse leaves from bushes and trees. With two continually growing horns, their front horn averages around 19 inches long.

Historically decimated by European hunters, their population plummeted 98% between 1960 and 1995, leaving fewer than 2,500 individuals. Conservation efforts have since doubled their numbers to over 6,000, but they remain critically endangered due to ongoing poaching. Persistent action is needed to safeguard their recovery and prevent further decline in the face of ongoing wildlife crime.

8. African Forest Elephant

african forest elephant
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African forest elephants are elusive residents of west and central African rainforests. Due to their dense habitat, they defy traditional counting methods. Their population is estimated through “dung counts,” which analyze feces density and distribution. Smaller than savanna elephants, they sport oval-shaped ears and straighter, downward-pointing tusks. 

With slower reproduction rates, they can’t rebound from declines as swiftly. Their main strongholds are in Gabon and Congo, with smaller populations elsewhere. Living in family groups of up to 20, they feed on leaves, grasses, fruits, and bark. They crucially disperse tree seeds, earning them the moniker ‘mega-gardeners of the forest,’ and supplement their diet at mineral-rich waterholes.

9. Sumatran Orangutan

sumatran orangutan
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Sumatran orangutans are mainly arboreal and dwell in tropical rainforest canopies, rarely venturing to the ground. Known for closer social ties, they gather at fig trees’ mass fruiting events. Adult males usually roam alone, while females travel with offspring. Once widespread across Sumatra and Java, their habitat has shrunk to northern Sumatra, with significant North Sumatra and Aceh populations. 

Only seven of nine populations are viable, each with 250 or more individuals and just three exceeding 1,000. Orangutans rescued from trade or as pets are reintroduced in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, where around 70 individuals are thriving and reproducing.

10. Hawksbill Turtle

hawksbill sea turtle
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The hawksbill turtle, distinguished by its pointed beak and unique shell patterns, is highly valued for its beautiful “tortoiseshell” shells. These turtles are typically found in tropical oceans, particularly around coral reefs, where they feed on sponges, sea anemones, and jellyfish.

As ancient creatures with a lineage dating back 100 million years, hawksbill turtles play a vital role in marine ecosystems by contributing to the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds.

11. Cross River Gorilla

cross river gorilla
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Cross River gorillas, numbering only 200 to 300, inhabit Cameroon and Nigeria’s lowland montane forests and rainforests, an area twice the size of Rhode Island. Due to their wariness of humans and rugged terrain, direct counting is challenging, with scientists relying on nest counts and estimated range sizes. 

Despite their resemblance to western lowland gorillas, subtle differences exist in their skull and tooth dimensions. Human encroachment through deforestation and poaching threatens their survival, emphasizing the need to secure their habitat. Conservation efforts, including protected areas spanning Cameroon and Nigeria’s border, aim to safeguard these critically endangered primates.

12. Vaquita

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The world’s rarest marine mammal, the vaquita, teeters on the brink of extinction with only about 10 individuals left. Discovered in 1958, this small porpoise faces imminent loss within just over half a century. Caught and drowned in illegal fishing gillnets within Mexico’s Gulf of California, their population has plummeted drastically in recent years. 

Identified by distinct features like dark rings around their eyes and lips, they prefer shallow waters near the shore but swiftly flee from approaching boats. Despite conservation efforts, the vaquita’s rapid decline underscores the urgent need for immediate action to prevent their extinction.

13. Saola

saola 2
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Discovered in May 1992 during a survey in north-central Vietnam, the saola became the first large mammal found in over 50 years—a monumental zoological discovery of the 20th century. Recognizable by its distinctive parallel horns, reaching up to 20 inches in length, saolas, pronounced “saw-la,” resemble antelopes but are related to cattle. 

With striking white facial markings and prominent muzzle glands, possibly for territorial marking, they inhabit only the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam. The find, initiated by a skull with unique horns found in a hunter’s home, marked a significant moment in scientific exploration.

14. Sumatran Rhino

sumatran rhino
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The diminutive Sumatran rhino, the lone Asian rhino with dual horns, boasts a shaggy coat and a genetic link to the extinct woolly rhinos. Their offspring are born with a thick fur coat, transitioning to a reddish hue before darkening with age. Competing with Javan rhinos for the title of most endangered, Sumatran rhinos face severe habitat loss and fragmentation threats.

Existing in scattered, dwindling populations, they struggle to find mates for breeding, exacerbating their decline. Once ranging across vast territories, they now cling to survival in fragmented habitats on Sumatra and Borneo, with extinction looming over the third subspecies.

15. Sumatran Elephant

sumatran elephant
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Sumatran elephants are critical architects of their forest environment. They consume diverse vegetation and spread seeds throughout their habitat, promoting forest regeneration. In their domain, they coexist with endangered species like the Sumatran rhino, tiger, and orangutan, acting as ecological linchpins for other creatures. 

Their presence supports a complex web of biodiversity, ensuring the ecosystem’s vitality. Through their foraging and seed dispersal activities, Sumatran elephants play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of their forest home, highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of preserving their habitat.

14 Little Frugal Luxuries to Make Life Better

Beautiful young woman in restaurant smiling close-up
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Living on a tight budget and diligently saving money can create frugal fatigue. It’s hard to avoid spending temptations, which can lead to impulse or binge spending.

Enjoying tiny luxuries every once in a while can make sticking to your budget easier. This way, you can fatten your savings account without depriving yourself of all pleasures. These small treats feel luxurious but cost next to nothing.

14 Little Frugal Luxuries To Make Life Better

Why Is Life So Unfair? (And What You Can Do About It)

Woman staring out a window feeling sad or loneliness.
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Why is life so unfair?

During periods of struggle, I’m guessing that you’ve asked yourself this question. It’s only natural when life seems to be punishing you for no other reason than to be cruel.

The truth though, is that you’re stronger than your circumstances. No matter the injustice that life throws your way, you can overcome these struggles.

Why Is Life So Unfair? (And What You Can Do About It)

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With a passion for travel, great food, and beautiful art, Julie put aside her 15-year career in the tech industry and dove head-first into a more creative sphere. Utilizing her degree in Communications, she is pursuing freelance writing. An avid traveler, Julie has experience writing and documenting the amazing spots she has visited and explored, the delicious food she has tasted, and the incredible art she has admired and purchased! When she’s not writing, she can be spotted around Austin, TX, at various art gallery openings, having a delicious meal with her husband and friends, and playing with her two dogs.

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