15 Rarest Animals on the Planet

“Saola” by Global Wildlife Conservation is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Every day, animals are disappearing from Earth. This happens because their homes are getting destroyed, people hunt them illegally, the climate is changing, and other reasons. Scientists keep track of these animals and put them on a list called the International Union for Conservation Red List. This list shows how close they are to dying out. Right now, over 3,800 creatures on this list are in big danger. 

Amur Leopard

“Walking Amur leopard cub” by Tambako the Jaguar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Amur leopards, also called Far East leopards, live in forests in Russia and China where it’s not too hot or too cold. Less than 100 of them are left in the wild, so seeing one is rare. People are hunting them illegally, cutting down their homes for wood, and selling them as pets, which is making their numbers go down. These leopards have beautiful fur, and that’s why folks want them.

Black Rhino

“Head On I – Black Rhino” by Lawrence OP is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Only about 5,600 black rhinos are left in the wild, and that’s not many. But compared to 20 years ago, there were double the number—which is good news! People in Africa are working hard to protect them. But there’s still a big problem with folks illegally hunting them for their horns. This makes it tough for black rhinos to make a full comeback.

Seneca White Deer

“White White-tailed Deer – fawn – nature – wildlife – animal – autumn” by blmiers2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Next on our list is the Seneca white deer—a very rare group of deer. These deer are unique because they lack pigmentation in their bodies but still have brown eyes. There are only about 300 of them in total, making them very rare. Efforts have been made to give them a safe space at the former Seneca Army Depot. Here, they’re safe from predators, and people can come and see them.


“Indochinese Tiger Cub Paw” by Doug Beckers is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Tiliger is one of the rarest animals ever. It’s a mix of a liger and a tiger—made by people. They’re so rare that hardly anyone sees them. There’s one in California and maybe six to ten in the whole world. Even though they’re usually bigger than regular tiger babies, they’re healthier than other animals made by mixing different species. This means there’s a chance more of them could be born in the future.

African Forest Elephant

“+ African forest elephants, lowland bongos and forest buffalos, Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve, CAR” by Free pictures for conservation is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

African forest elephants are one of only two kinds of African elephants. Sadly, they’re in big trouble and might disappear forever. Their numbers have dropped by more than 86% in just 31 years. Now, they only live in about a quarter of the places they used to. Folks are hunting them illegally—destroying their homes, and breaking up the places they live. Changes in how land is used are also making things worse for them.


“Saola” by Global Wildlife Conservation is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The saola is a very rare animal that was found in 1992. It’s from Vietnam and has two long horns, so some folks call it the “Asian unicorn.” It looks a bit like an antelope, but it’s actually related to cows. Saolas only live in the Annamite Mountains in Vietnam and Laos. Even though there are definitely very few of them, researchers are still determining exactly how many there are.

Malayan Tiger

“Malayan Tiger” by Rennett Stowe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Malayan tiger lives in the middle and southern parts of the Malay peninsula, just like its name says. These cats are super rare and are one of the smallest kinds of tigers—weighing only about 250 pounds. Sadly, people are hunting them illegally, and some local communities want their body parts. Also, their homes are getting destroyed, which is making things worse. Now, there are fewer than 150 of these left in the wild.

Yangtze Finless Porpoise

“Yangtze finless porpoise, 12 February 2008b” by Huangdan2060 is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The Yangtze River in Asia used to have two types of dolphins—the finless porpoise and the Baiji dolphin. But because people changed things too much, the Baiji dolphin disappeared forever in 2006. The finless porpoise is still there, and it’s known for its smiling face. Sadly, their numbers are going down fast. Back in 2013, about 1,000 finless porpoises were left, but now there might be even fewer.

Hainan Gibbon

“Nomascus hainanus海南長臂猿” by chsyang is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

The Hainan gibbon is the rarest kind of ape in the whole world. Because people hunt them and their homes are getting worse—they’re one of the most in-danger animals on Earth. Back in the ’50s, scientists saw about 2,000 of these gibbons, but now there are only around 35 left! All of them live in just one place, a nature reserve on an island called Hainan in China.

Purple Frog

“Purple frog mating by Nihal Jabin” by Nihaljabinedk is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The purple frog spends almost all its time underground and only comes out once a year for a few days to have babies. It’s from India and has been living there all by itself for about 100 million years. Even though scientists only officially recognized it in 2003, it’s already in danger of disappearing because folks are destroying its homes. Since it stays underground most of the time—we don’t know exactly how many there are.


“Vaquita swimming through the void. (Phocoena Sinus)” by 좀비 브렌다 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The vaquita is the rarest sea mammal on the whole planet. It was found in 1958 but since then, its numbers have dropped a lot. You can spot a vaquita easily because it has big gray fins and dark circles around its eyes. But if you try to get close—it’ll swim away fast. Sadly, lots of them get caught in nets used by illegal fishers. Now there are only about 30 vaquitas left.

Hector’s Dolphin

“Hector’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori)” by Gregory ‘Slobirdr’ Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hector’s dolphins are super rare and the smallest dolphins in the ocean. They have short, chunky bodies and special markings on their faces. You can only find these special dolphins in the waters near the North Island of New Zealand. Scientists think there are about 7,000 of them altogether, but some groups have as few as 55 dolphins.

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

“Borneo Pygmy Elephants” by shankar s. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Borneo pygmy elephant is famous for being the calmest of all Asian elephants. They have big ears and a tail that’s too long for their small bodies, so they often touch the ground when they walk. Even though they’re really cute and are the smallest elephants in Asia—they’re in big trouble. People are hunting them and cutting down their homes. Now, there are only about 1,500 of them left.

Black-Spotted Cuscus

“Guadalcanal Landscape, circa 1942” by Archives Branch, USMC History Division is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The black-spotted cuscus might look scary with its vertical pupils and curved front claws. It lives only in New Guinea. But sadly, folks hunting them and cutting down trees where they live are pushing them close to disappearing forever. We don’t know exactly how many are left, but we do know they’re really rare. Since 2010, they’ve been in big trouble—and sometimes, they’ve completely disappeared from places where they used to live.

Philippine Eagle

“The Philippine Eagle” by shankar s. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This bird used to be called the “Monkey-eating eagle,” and it’s from the Philippines. It’s one of the toughest hunters, and its strong beak can catch monkeys, snakes, and lizards. Even though it’s the National Bird of the Philippines, it’s been in trouble for the last 40 years because people have been cutting down trees where it lives. Now, there are less than 300 of these eagles left.