Learn what critically endangered means and some animals that are on the list. 

What is a critically endangered species?

Extinction is very near for some animal species. Being able to identify which species are closer to being lost forever gives us a chance to create or improve wildlife conservation and zoo biology

That is why the Red List of Threatened Species was created. It categorizes species into groups regarding their risk of extinction  - like vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered. Our team wants to share with you what is a critically endangered species and some examples of critically endangered species. 

What is a critically endangered species? 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorizes species that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild as critically endangered. To determine whether a species falls into this category, researchers look at these four factors

  • Population reduction rate

  • Geographic range

  • Population size 

  • Population restrictions 

How are critically endangered species protected?

Critically endangered species are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This act works to protect the conservation of threatened animals, plants and their habitats. It protects animals that are listed by the IUCN Red List as vulnerable or endangered. 

Examples of critically endangered species

African forest elephants 

There are two types of African elephants - the African forest elephant and the African bush elephant. One difference between the two is that the African bush elephant is listed as critically endangered. This kind of elephant lives in forests of Central Africa - more specifically Gabon and Congo

African forest elephants have seen a 86 percent population decline in the last 30 years. The two main causes of elephant population declines are poaching and habitat loss. Many of these elephants are poached for their tusks and meat. 

Plus, their habitats have been destroyed due to agricultural land takeover. Conservation efforts for African forest elephants have been tough because there is little research and no accurate way to count populations

Cross River gorillas 

Cross River gorillas are considered to be one of the most endangered gorillas of Africa. These gorillas are subspecies of the western gorillas that live in Cameroon and Nigeria. They were once thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the highlands of Cameroon and Nigeria. 

Poaching and habitat loss has caused populations of Cross River gorillas to decline. According to researchers, there are an estimated 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world. To prevent these animals from going extinct, wildlife organizations have teamed up to create a protected area for these gorillas. 

Sumatran tigers 

The Sumatran tigers, also known as Sunda tigers, are the smallest kind of tigers. What makes them distinguishable is their bright orange coats and black stripes. They are categorized as critically endangered. In the wild, these tigers may be found in the forests on the island of Sumatra. 

It is estimated that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left. Their populations have declined due to habitat loss and wildlife trade. The Sumatran tigers are losing their homes due to the deforestation for paper products. This has led to these tigers having conflicts with humans. 


Orangutans are distinguishable by their reddish coats. There are three types of orangutans - the Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli. They are only found in the rainforests of the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. An interesting fact about these apes is that they spend their entire lives in the trees. 

Due to deforestation and illegal hunting, orangutans have been categorized as critically endangered. These animals are either hunted for their meat or out of fear. It is estimated that there are 50,000 to 65,000 orangutans left in the world

How to support wildlife conservation and zoo biology

One of the best ways to support wildlife conservation is by supporting nonprofits like For Elephants. Our organization helps zoos and wild elephants get the opportunity to thrive and survive. You can donate to our research by joining the “Herd of Heroes.” Donate down below. 

related articles

Four animals that are great mothers


Check what animals are the best mothers! 

read more

Five of the world’s strongest animals


Learn about some of the world's strongest animals. 

read more

Animals that need your help in 2022


Check out this list of animals that are close to extinction. 

read more

Updated: The importance of animal conservation


Here is why it is important to protect and conserve animals.

read more

Updated: The different types of elephants


Learn about each kind of elephant! 

read more

Updated: African elephants’ role in Africa’s ecosystem


Learn about the role and importance of elephants in the ecosystem. 

read more

African Bush Elephants vs. African Forest Elephants


Here is how African bush elephants and African forest elephants differ.

read more

Three animals that display emotional intelligence


These are some of the animals that show emotional intelligence. 

read more

Three terrifying facts about wildlife


Here are three terrifying things happening in the wildlife. 

read more

What you need to know about the African forest elephant


Learn some interesting facts about the African forest elephant!

read more