Different Types and Categories of Endangered Animals

Endangered animal categories, definitions, and lists

A-Z Animals follows the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s nine categories of endangered animal lists. They are:

Extinct Logo Extinct (EX) — Extinct species no longer exist. After exhaustive research, scientists around the world agree that there isn’t a single living individual of the species on the planet. Interestingly, 99 percent of all species that ever graced the Earth over the past five billion years have gone extinct. Read more and see an  extinct species list here.
Extinct in the wild Logo Extinct in the wild (EW) — Species that only survive in captivity, cultivation, or outside their native range are deemed “extinct in the wild.” For example, if only 10 individuals of a rare bird are left, and they all live in zoos or on a single nature preserve, the IUCN would classify the species as extinct in the wild. Read more and see an  extinct in the wild species list here.
Critically endangered Logo Critically endangered (CR)  — Critically endangered species are on the brink of becoming extinct or extinct in the wild but have not yet met the criteria for either category. See a  list of critically endangered species here.
Endangered Logo Endangered (EN) — 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 specific criteria regarding population or habitat decline, which you can read about on our  endangered species list.
Vulnerable Logo Vulnerable (VU) — Vulnerable species meet at least one of the five Red List criteria. They’re considered to be at high risk of human-caused extinction if conservationists don’t intervene. For the IUCN to add a taxon to the Vulnerable animals list, it must meet specific criteria regarding population or habitat decline. Read more on our  vulnerable species list here.
Near threatened Logo Near threatened (NT) — A species is considered Near Threatened when it doesn’t qualify as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable, but scientists believe it will reach one of those levels in the near future. See our  near threatened species list here.
Least concern Logo Least concern (LC) — Species that fall into the Least Concern category are not presently facing any population or habitat declines. See a  least concern species list.
Data deficient Logo Data deficient (DD) — Data deficient species lack enough information to properly categorize into one of the groups above. See a data deficient species list.
Not evaluated Logo Not evaluated (NE) — This species has not been evaluated for an IUCN categorization yet. See a  list of not evaluated species.

What is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)?

The IUCN is the organization that monitors the conservation status and other ecological metrics for the world’s plants and animals. Its mission is to promote sustainable use of the Earth’s resources.Founded in 1948, in Fontainebleau, France, as the Union for the Protection of Nature, the IUCN is the oldest global environmental advocacy group. Today, headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, the umbrella organization collaborates with over 1,000 smaller nonprofits, associations, and governments representing 140 countries.

How Many Species Occupy the Earth?

The IUCN monitors the world’s species, which raises the question: How many species currently occupy the planet?In 2016, researchers declared their collective belief that over one trillion species currently occupy the Earth. However, scientists have only observed and described about one-thousandth of one percent of them, or 7 to 10 million.The typical lifespan of a species is 10 million years. However, some stick around for hundreds of millions of years. For example, jellyfish have lived on Earth for nearly 550 million years!

What is a Taxon?

The IUCN frequently uses the word “taxon.” So what is it? A taxon is a group of one or more populations of a species or organism that form a unit.

What is the Red List?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is perhaps best known for creating the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a detailed accounting of the world’s vulnerable and endangered species. The list started in 1964 and details at-risk taxons, for both plants and animals, which are separated into several categories.

How Many Animals are Currently Endangered?

You may be wondering: How many animals are endangered, or what animals are endangered in 2020? For the most recent version of the list, IUCN researchers and scientists evaluated 63,837 species. Of that number, 19,817 are threatened with extinction; 3,947 landed in the Critically Endangered category; 5,766 qualified as Endangered, and over 10,000 species are listed under Vulnerable.

What is the Endangered Species Act?

Passed in 1973, the Endangered Species Act is a federal United States law designed to protect threatened and endangered species that are imperiled because of a “consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation.” The goal of the act is to prevent extinction and recover species to the point where they no longer need protection.

Extinct Animals

A Archaeotherium
Archaeotherium

The family Entelodontidae is commonly referred to as "hell pigs."

A Oviraptor
Oviraptor

Oviraptor means "egg thief" or "egg seizer," though they were quite protective of their own eggs.

See all of our extinct animals.

Extinct in the Wild Animals

A Pere Davids Deer
Pere Davids Deer

Has webbing between its toes, aiding in swimming!

A Spixs Macaw
Spixs Macaw

One of earth's rarest animals!

A Scimitar-horned Oryx
Scimitar-horned Oryx

Believed to be the inspiration for unicorn myths!

See all of our extinct in the wild animals.

Critically Endangered Animals

A Pied Tamarin
Pied Tamarin

Only found in one area of Brazil!

A Scrotum Frog
Scrotum Frog

The frog's ears are underdeveloped, and if it hears it probably does so through its lungs.

A Saiga
Saiga

Large noses help filter out dust

See all of our critically endangered animals.

Endangered Animals

A Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin Tuna

The bluefin is one of the largest fish in the world

A Wildebeest
Wildebeest

Can trek more than 1,000 miles every year!

A Bactrian Camel
Bactrian Camel

The camel with two humps!

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Vulnerable Animals

A Peacock Spider
Peacock Spider

They can jump up to 10 centimeters (40 times their body size) and see the full rainbow spectrum of light, including UV.

See all of our vulnerable animals.

Near Threatened Animals

A Bison
Bison

Largest mammal in North America!

A Penguin
Penguin

Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

A Purple Emperor Butterfly
Purple Emperor Butterfly

Inhabits deciduous forests!

See all of our near threatened animals.

Least Concern Animals

A Firefly
Firefly

The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world

A King Rat Snake
King Rat Snake

When threatened or frightened, the king rat snake has the ability to produce a foul-smelling substance out of self defense.

A Yellow Spotted Lizard
Yellow Spotted Lizard

Gives birth to live young.

See all of our least concern animals.

Data Deficient Animals

A Horn Shark
Horn Shark

Endemic to the Californian coast!

A Dusky Dolphin
Dusky Dolphin

Communicates using whistles, squeaks and clicks!

A Python
Python

Female pythons lay eggs and defend them until they hatch.

See all of our data deficient animals.

Not Evaluated Animals

A Eastern Green Mamba
Eastern Green Mamba

It is completely arboreal, and its green color is one of the adaptations that make life in the trees possible.

A Horned Lizard
Horned Lizard

The horned lizards are able to squirt blood from their eyes.

A Wolf Eel
Wolf Eel

Wolf Eels may become tame and interact with human in areas where people frequently dive.

See all of our not evaluated animals.

The Big List of Endangered Animals

List of Extinct Animals

List of Extinct in the Wild Animals

List of Critically Endangered Species

List of Endangered Species

List of Vulnerable Species

List of Near Threatened Species

List of Least Concern Species

List of Data Deficient Species

List of Not Evaluated Species