Over 538 animal and plant species are dangling on the edge of extinction due to human-driven climate alterations. Tragically, our planet’s breathtaking biodiversity is fading fast, and the clock is ticking.
The good news? Here, we solely measured vertebrates in biogeographic realms, predicting their future changes through exclusive data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
While relying only on natural migration is a lost battle for 70% of species, shifting to niche adaptation strategies anticipates reducing extinction rates by 30%.
Now, focusing on the extinction risk of threatened vertebrates, let’s zoom into the local landscapes where these species struggle to survive, unveiling the urgent action required to slow this alarming loss of wildlife. Dive into the numbers with us — every species counts!
- According to the IUCN red list: a total of 42100 species are threatened with extinction.
- Vertebrates Global Overview: There are about 65,000 vertebrate species, but they make up only 3% of all animal species. The smallest is the Paedophryne amanuensis frog at 0.3 inches, while the largest is the blue whale at 110 feet.
- Animal Species Breakdown:
- Mammals: 6,596 species
- Amphibians: 8,536 species
- Birds: 11,188 species
- Reptiles: 11,733 species
- Fish: 36,367 species
- Amphibian Vulnerability: Amphibians are unique for living both in water and land, with 8,536 species, but they face high extinction threats, with 41% endangered.
- Bird Diversity: There are 11,188 bird species, known for flying (though not all can), with various shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Indonesia’s Rich Biodiversity: Indonesia tops the list of countries with the most animal species at 10,408 and has the highest number of threatened species at 1,233.
- High Threat Levels in Australia and Mexico: Australia and Mexico have high percentages of threatened species at 12.5% and 13.9%, respectively.
- Most Endangered Animals Forecasted:
- The Javan rhino has only about 75 left.
- Amur Leopard’s population stands at 100.
- Sunda Island Tiger’s count is around 400.
- Around 1,000 Mountain Gorillas remain.
- Less than 800 Tapanuli Orangutans are alive.
- Rapid Extinction Rates: Between 2006 and 2022, extinction rates were highest among birds (7.2%) and amphibians (11.1%).
- Call to Conservation Urgency: 841 highly threatened species could be preserved from extinction with an annual investment of approximately $1.3 billion.
Available Animals Globally (Vertebrates)
There are roughly 65,000 types of animals with backbones, known as vertebrates. Although this may seem like a large number, these animals represent only 3% of all animals on our planet. The vast majority, or 95%, of animal species, lack backbones and are called invertebrates.
Vertebrates are a varied bunch, each with special traits and features. For example, vertebrates can be as tiny as a particular kind of frog called the Paedophryne amanuensis, which is only as big as 0.3 inches. On the other hand, they can also be as huge as the blue whale, the largest animal on Earth, reaching lengths of 110 feet.
Number of Known Animals by Species
Our Earth has a wonderful variety of animals, each group with its own special traits helping them live and thrive in different places.
Mammals are known for feeding their babies with milk and can be as small as bats or as large as elephants, with a total of 6,596 known kinds.
Then there are amphibians, with 8,536 kinds, including frogs that sing, small newts, toads with bumpy skin, and sleek salamanders. These animals are unique because they live both in water and on land.
Birds are another exciting group of 11,188 species, known for their ability to fly (though not all can). Birds can be of different shapes, sizes, and colors, filling our skies with beauty and music.
Reptiles, with dry, scaly skin, are another interesting group of 11,733 species, ranging from scary crocodiles to gentle turtles, each laying eggs to reproduce.
Lastly, fish are amazing water animals, with a whopping 36,367 species living in various water environments, from colorful reefs to the deep, mysterious sea.
Each of these animals plays a special part in nature. With such a wide variety of life, it’s important for us to take care of all these different animals, especially as they face challenges like losing their homes and changes in the climate.
Top Countries with the Highest Number of Available Animal Species
These numbers highlight the urgent need to protect and care for different countries’ unique animals and environments. It’s crucial for nations to work together, especially as many areas are at risk due to climate change, which is making habitats disappear.
Thanks to its diverse environments, Indonesia is at the top with an impressive 10,404 animal species. Brazil is not far behind, with 8,873 species, many of which live in the vast Amazon rainforest.
Australia has 8,554 species, home to well-known animals like kangaroos and koalas. The United States, with its variety of places—from the wilds of Alaska to the special Florida Everglades—hosts 8,372 species.
Colombia stands out with 7,403 species, making it one of the richest countries in terms of different kinds of animals, with habitats ranging from high mountains to large rainforests.
Mexico, China, and Malaysia each have over 6,000 species, showing their importance in the world’s ecology.
Countries like the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Tanzania, each with over 5,000 species, highlight the rich variety of life in Southeast Asia and East Africa. Peru, South Africa, and Venezuela also have a lot of different species due to their various climates and landscapes.
Even smaller countries like Japan and Ecuador have over 5,000 species. Lastly, the Congo, with 4,902 species, shines a light on the plentiful wildlife in Central Africa. Each of these countries plays a vital role in the world’s biodiversity, so it’s essential to protect them.
Threatened Animals Globally
An endangered species is a classification used for organisms that face the imminent threat of extinction. This precarious status arises primarily due to two overarching factors: loss of habitat, and loss of genetic variation.
According to the IUCN red list, a total of 42100 species are threatened with extinction.
Number of Endangered Animals by Species
Five mass extinctions have shaped Earth’s history. Now, a sixth looms, driven by human activities. While quantifying its full scope remains challenging, preserving biodiversity is urgent. Conservation and adaptation strategies are key to mitigating this alarming loss of wildlife. Every species is invaluable.
Fishes (3,551 species)
As of the data available, approximately 3,551 fish species are categorized as endangered. This alarming figure underscores the critical conservation challenges faced by aquatic ecosystems worldwide. Among the endangered fish species, some well-known examples include the Chinese paddlefish (psephurus gladius) and smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis), which are believed to be extinct.
Amphibians (2,606 species)
Within the realm of amphibians, 2,606 species are listed as endangered. Amphibians — such as the Golden Toad of Costa Rica (now extinct) and the Borneo rainbow toad (thought to be extinct until rediscovered in 2011) — exemplify the vulnerability of these creatures to habitat loss and diseases like chytrid fungus.
Reptiles (1,842 species)
Reptiles grapple with threats like habitat destruction and poaching. There are about 1,842 endangered reptile species. Some of these include the radiated tortoise from Madagascar, suffering from habitat loss and illegal pet trade, and the Philippine crocodile, a critically endangered species found only in certain regions of the Philippines.
Birds (1,400 species)
Among birds, 1,400 species are categorized as endangered. Iconic examples include the Kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand, and the Spix’s Macaw, considered extinct in the wild until a small population was rediscovered in Brazil. These birds face habitat loss and pressures from the illegal pet trade.
Mammals (1,340 species)
Mammals, numbering 1,340 species in the endangered category, include the Sumatran orangutan, which is critically endangered due to deforestation and habitat fragmentation, and the Javan rhinoceros, one of the rarest mammals on Earth — only a few remain in the wild.
These mammals also rank among the top 10 most endangered animals on earth. We also have a lot of mammals that have already become extinct, including the saber-toothed tiger, Eobasileus, Quagga, Thylacine, and Irish Elk, among others.
% of Threatened Species
Amphibians have the highest percentage (41%) of threatened species, followed by mammals at 27%, reptiles at 21%, and birds at 13%.
Like frogs and salamanders, Amphibians are in great danger, with 41% at risk of disappearing forever. This is mainly because they are losing their homes, and climate change is making their survival even harder. It’s crucial to invest time and money now to save these animals from becoming extinct.
Sadly, about one-fourth of the world’s meat-eating animals and those with hooves are also moving closer to extinction since the 1970s. For every animal species that is doing better, eight are doing worse. Especially, the larger animals are disappearing faster than smaller ones, with those in Southeast Asia seeing the biggest declines.
Turtles and crocodiles are in trouble, too. About 60% of turtle species and half of crocodile species might go extinct. Since 1500, 31 types of reptiles have already disappeared, and 40 more are very close to extinction.
Bird populations are also decreasing. As noted by biologist Alexander Lees, nearly half of the world’s bird species are seeing their numbers decrease, and 13% of these are in serious danger of extinction.
Given all these facts, let’s zoom in on animals with rapid extinction rates over the past decades.
Animals with the Fastest Extinction Rate
A chart provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) offers a glimpse into the rates of extinction among various animal groups between 2006 and 2022.
Birds emerge with the swiftest rate, standing at 7.2%, followed by amphibians, reptiles, fish, and mammals at 2.3%, 11.1%, 0.9%, and 1.3%, respectively.
During the period stated above, fishes with an initial 1,171 threatened species have faced a great risk of extinction, moving to the top of the list with a record 3,551 species facing extinction by 2022.
On the other hand, amphibians are going extinct at an alarming rate, with 1,842 species currently under risk compared to only 341 back in 2006.
This chart underscores the urgency of conservation efforts in a world where nearly half of bird species are under threat, with 13% facing significant risks, as noted by biologist Alexander Lees from the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University.
Since 1988, a concerning trend has unfolded, with 391 bird species moving closer to the brink of extinction, surpassing the number of species whose threat ratings improved due to conservation efforts. This indicates the ongoing challenges faced by avian biodiversity and the need for enhanced and sustained conservation measures to protect these species from further decline.
Mammals have recorded a rather sluggish extinction rate since 2006, with only 1,340 species at risk of extinction compared to approximately 1,100
species in 2006.
These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the precarious state of global biodiversity and the imperative need for immediate and concerted actions to safeguard these species and their ecosystems.
Top Countries with the Highest Number of Threatened Animal Species
- Indonesia (1,233 threatened; 10,408 total): With 1,233 out of 10,408 species at risk, approximately 11.9% of Indonesia’s animal species are threatened.
- United States (1,178 threatened, 8273 total): With 1,178 species at risk, which is close to 14.2%, the U.S. has significant wildlife needing protection.
- Australia (1,067 threatened; 8,554 total): Australia has 1,067 threatened species out of 8,554, which means about 12.5% of its unique animal species are at risk.
- Mexico (953 threatened; 6,880 total): In Mexico, 953 out of 6,880 species are threatened, constituting approximately 13.9% of its total animal species.
- Brazil (856 threatened; 8,873 total): Brazil has 856 out of 8,873 species at risk, accounting for nearly 9.6% of its total wildlife needing protection.
- Madagascar (849 threatened): Madagascar has 849 threatened species (total count not provided), emphasizing the need for conservation of its distinctive wildlife.
- India (813 threatened; 6,848 total): With 813 out of 6,848 species at risk in India, around 11.9% of its wildlife is under threat.
- Colombia (755 threatened; 7,403 total): Colombia has 755 threatened species out of 7,403, which is approximately 10.2% of its total animal species.
- Malaysia (755 threatened; 6,232 total): Malaysia has 755 out of 6,232 species at risk, translating to around 12.1% of its animal species being threatened.
- Philippines (693 threatened; 5,858 total): The Philippines has 693 out of 5,858 species threatened, which is about 11.8% of its total animal species facing risks.
Understanding the percentage of species at risk in each country helps highlight the urgency and areas where conservation efforts should be focused to prevent biodiversity loss.
Popular Animals Threatened with Extinctions in the Near Future
According to data from IUCN, over 41,000 animal species are threatened with extinction, as evidenced by their dwindling numbers over the past years. In fact, the wildlife population has decreased by nearly 69% since 1970.
Here’s a list of the 10 most endangered animal species:
1. The Javan rhino, once widespread in Southeast Asia, faces a dire situation with only about 75 individuals left on the island of Java, Indonesia, making them critically endangered. These rhinos are vulnerable to extinction due to various factors, including habitat loss, disease, poaching, and the risk of inbreeding.
2. The Amur Leopard, one of the rarest big cats globally, has only 100 individuals in the wild. These leopards have remained critically endangered since 1996 due to significant threats, including habitat loss, prey scarcity, and transportation infrastructure like roads. Nonetheless, there’s optimism as about 75% of their range lies in protected areas.
3. The Sunda Island Tiger, the world’s smallest tiger subspecies, weighs up to 140kg, while Amur tigers are the largest of all big cats. With an initial population of around 800 in 1985, current estimates put the figure of Sunda Island tigers at 400 left in the wild and exclusively on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. However, tiger poaching and the illegal trade in tiger parts and products further imperil their survival.
4. Mountain Gorillas; Approximately 1,000 mountain gorillas are left on Earth, with nearly half of them residing in the Virunga mountains of central Africa. Their limited population highlights the need for conservation efforts to protect this critically endangered species.
5. The Tapanuli Orangutan, declared a distinct species in 2017, is found in the isolated forests of Batang Toru on Sumatra, Indonesia, with fewer than 800 individuals, marking them as the most endangered great ape species. With 40% of North Sumatra’s forests vanishing between 1985 and 2007, urgent conservation efforts are imperative for their protection.
6. Kakapos, rare nocturnal parrots from New Zealand, face near-extinction with only around 140 individuals. They are critically endangered due to predation by introduced species, and even with conservation efforts, low genetic diversity raises concerns for future survival, particularly in light of climate change.
7. Tooth-billed Pigeons, exclusive to Samoa, face a critical decline, with 70 to 380 remaining in the wild. Their past decline resulted from hunting and habitat loss, including deforestation and invasive species, urging immediate conservation action to protect this unique species.
8. African forest Elephants, critically endangered, have seen an 86% decline over 31 years; their estimated numbers are uncertain due to their reclusive nature. They now occupy only 25% of their historical range, scattered across 20 nations.
9. The Vaquita, the smallest and most endangered marine mammal, has been critically endangered since 1996, with a recent estimate of just 9 individuals due to illegal totoaba fishing, despite a 2016 gillnet ban in their habitat. Conservation efforts aim to enforce the ban and reduce the demand for totoaba.
10. Hawksbill Turtle populations have declined by at least 80%, with their estimated nesting numbers ranging from 20,000 to 23,000, leading to a critically endangered status.
These species face severe climate change threats, including habitat loss, necessitating immediate conservation measures to protect their dwindling populations and genetic diversity.
Forecasts on Animals’ Survival and Extinction
In a pressing revelation, researchers have scrutinized a staggering 71,000 species, encompassing mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fishes, and the findings are alarming.
A stark 48% of these species are currently grappling with population declines, while only 3% are experiencing growth. This situation demands immediate attention, underscoring the urgency of the global biodiversity crisis.
Here’s some perspective:
- Tigers: Populations of nearly half of the world’s species are in decline, with Southeast Asian species facing the sharpest decline and only about 3,800 remaining in the wild.
- Nearly half of the world’s bird species are declining, with only 6% experiencing population growth, while approximately 1,409 species face the threat of extinction; North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, and the European Union, five times smaller, has lost 600 million birds since 1980.
- Nearly a quarter of carnivores and ungulate species have moved one category closer to extinction since 1970.
- Since 2004, 306 species of Amphibians, representing 41%, have crept closer to extinction, with 185 possibly extinct.
- A recent study indicates that 841 highly threatened species could be preserved from extinction with an annual investment of approximately $1.3 billion. However, 15 of these species face notably slim chances of successful conservation efforts.
The grim reality is undeniable in an increasingly interconnected world: our planet’s diverse ecosystems are under dire threat. From the depths of the open ocean to the heart of lush rainforests, the decline of bird, fish, amphibian, and reptile populations has been relentless, with more than two-thirds facing the specter of extinction between 1970 and 2018. The figures, now well-established, are harrowing, painting a picture of ecological turmoil.
This critical juncture demands swift and resolute action. With countless species already at the precipice of vanishing forever, the need for comprehensive conservation measures and a global commitment to combat climate change is more urgent than ever. In many ways, the fate of these species mirrors our planet’s fate. The time for concerted, decisive action to protect and preserve the extraordinary web of life on Earth is upon us.
This study seeks to synthesize and analyze data regarding global vertebrate populations, emphasizing the threat levels they face. Our methodology was developed based on the provided data sources, primarily from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
1. Data Collection:
Source: The foundational dataset was extracted from IUCN, a reputable global authority on the conservation status of species.
2. Classification of Species:
Vertebrates were categorized into five main groups:
Mammals, Amphibians, Birds, Reptiles, Fishes
For each category, specific species and unique traits and features were detailed to comprehensively understand each group.
3. Population Assessment:
The numbers of known species within each vertebrate category were documented. This allowed for a quantitative assessment of the breadth of species and an overview of the diversity within each category.
4. Geographic Distribution:
Data on the top countries with the highest number of available animal species and those with the most threatened species was analyzed. This provided insights into geographical hotspots of biodiversity and regions of urgent conservation concern.
5. Extinction Forecasts:
Based on the presented data, extinction rates of various animal groups between 2006 and 2022 were examined. Trends were identified, and we derived forecasts for future extinction probabilities using this historical data.
Note: The methodology does not account for potential changes in conservation efforts or unforeseen environmental crises that may alter the trajectory of these trends. As with any forecast, it’s essential to approach the results with caution, acknowledging the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the myriad of factors influencing species survival.
In conclusion, our methodology offers a structured approach to understanding the current state of vertebrates globally, using IUCN data to underscore the urgency of conservation efforts in the face of increasing extinction rates.