15 Rarest of Rare Animals in the World

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We live in a world full of amazing wildlife, but there are some animals that are so rare you would likely never have heard about them. They are either on the verge of extinction or live in such small numbers that finding one is like finding a needle in a haystack. Here are 15 rare animals in the world.


Paula Olson – Wikimedia Commons

There are only 10 of these little guys left in the world, a type of porpoise that is the most endangered marine mammal. Shy and just confined to the uppermost part of the northern Gulf of California, the Vaquita is a pretty elusive creature since it has only rarely been seen. Thus, scientists have had a few chances to study it. 

Amur Leopard

Tony Hisgett – Wikimedia Commons

The Amur leopard is a stunning big cat that hails from the temperate forests of the Russian Far East. The Amur leopard has a protective coat of fur that keeps them warm through the brutal, icy winters. Unfortunately, due to deforestation, hunting for its lovely fur, and a lack of prey, only around 100 of them remain.

Javan Rhino

S. Muller – Wikimedia Commons

This rhino species was once widespread across much of Southeast Asia but is now limited to one location, the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia. With fewer than 75 individuals left, the survival of the Javan rhino is at a critical point. It is greatly endangered by the destruction of habitats and a probable disease that would end its species.

Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Donald Hobern – Wikimedia Commons

This Australian native is one of the rarest large mammals. Inhabiting only one location, Epping Forest National Park in Queensland, this wombat is very elusive and lives underground in burrows. Their extremely limited habitat is threatened by natural disasters like droughts and human encroachments. Only 250 of them now exist, making each one super precious.

Angel Shark

Nick Long – Wikimedia Commons

Angel sharks spend most of their time buried in the sandy ocean floor, waiting to ambush prey like fish and mollusks. They are masters of camouflage, and it is almost impossible to trace them once buried. They used to be quite common along the coasts of Europe, but fishing bycatch and habitat destruction have greatly reduced their populations.


Kakapo Sirocco – Wikimedia Commons

Kakapo, or night parrot, is a bird native to New Zealand. It is flightless and the world’s heaviest parrot. Kakapos are nocturnal and only breed once every two to four years, depending on food availability. With just over 200 left, conservation efforts like relocating them to predator-free islands have helped keep this quirky bird from extinction.


Silviculture – Wikimedia Commons

The Saola is so elusive that it is often called the Asian unicorn. It has strikingly long and straight horns, and because it is rarely seen, it remains one of the biggest mysteries of the animal kingdom. It is estimated that only a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred saolas still exist.


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Gharial is a fish-eating crocodile species that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It has a long, narrow snout with a pot of bulbous growth on the tip. They are confined to a few rivers only and are threatened by river pollution, fishing, and loss of riverine habitat. There are an estimated 250 mature individuals in the wild.

Sumatran Rhino

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The Sumatran rhino is the smallest rhino species and is covered in patches of hair. They were once found across Southeast Asia but their population has plummeted due to widespread poaching for their horn and habitat destruction. Today, they remain in isolated areas of Indonesia with less than 80 existing animals.

California Condor

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This majestic being has a wingspan of up to 9.8 feet, making it a giant bird in North America. Back in 1987, they were considered extinct in the wild, with all remaining taken into captivity for a breeding program. Luckily, the reintroduction was a success, and there are more than 300 California condors in captivity and the wild.

Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle

John Edward Gray – Wikimedia Commons

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is probably one of the most rare turtles in existence. At present, there are apparently only three of these turtles living on the Earth. These freshwater turtles were once prevalent in the Yangtze River in China. However, chemical pollution, the demise of their freshwater habitat, and rampant poaching have effectively wiped them out. 


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The Hirola, also known as the Hunter’s antelope, is critically endangered. Native to the dry grasslands between Kenya and Somalia, less than 500 Hirolas remain. Their numbers have dropped due to habitat loss, poaching, and livestock diseases. Conservation areas and community efforts are crucial to their survival.

Ploughshare Tortoise

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The Angonoka Tortoise, also known as the Ploughshare Tortoise, is native to Madagascar. These tortoises are recognizable by their unusual high-dome shell and polished appearance. Unfortunately, this beautiful appearance is a curse because it makes them a prime target for illegal pet traders. As one of the rarest tortoises on the planet, this species is facing extinction, with only 400 of them remaining. 

Greater Bamboo Lemur

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The Greater Bamboo Lemur is Madagascar’s rare gem. Rarely seen, this lemur primarily consumes bamboo. It is one of the most endangered primates in the world; there are no more than 500 of them today. The unique species are currently at risk due to the destruction of their habitat during the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture and illegal logging.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

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The Hawaiian monk seal is a true survivor from an ancient lineage of seals. These seals are found only in the Hawaiian Islands, and with a population of about 1,400, they are one of the few tropical seal species. Despite being protected by law, they face threats from marine debris, fishing nets, and environmental changes that affect their beach habitats. 


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