Endangered Animals and Their Families

The Rainforest Alliance works tirelessly to promote the well-being of families all over the globe by safeguarding women’s and children’s rights and improving livelihoods for those who depend on forests to live. We are also just as committed to protecting and restoring biodiversity and the habitats many of these endangered species need to survive.

To honor both of those commitments, here is a photo series of endangered species with their families:

1. One of the world’s most critically endangered mammals, the African Wild Dog is mostly found in Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

African Wild Dogs
Photo credit: Derek Keats

These fascinating creatures can reach running speeds of more than 44 miles per hour. Despite their impressive kill rate—80%, even higher than lions—they are very caring toward one another within the pack: all adults participate in caring for the pups; adults feed the little ones before themselves; and they establish hierarchies without violence.

2. Populations of both the African elephant, the largest land mammal on Earth, and the smaller Asian elephant have been decimated by the ivory trade.

Elephants approaching
Photo credit: iStock

Because elephants need vast territories to roam and graze, habitat destruction has also caused their numbers to plummet. Elephants live in complex, matriarchal social structures; adult males usually live on their own.

3. A subspecies of the eastern gorilla, mountain gorillas live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla, mother and baby
Photo credit: Carine06, Wikimedia Commons

War, hunting, habitat destruction and disease have significantly depleted their numbers. Mountain gorillas remain critically endangered—in fact, not long ago they were expected to be extinct by the end of the twentieth century—but they are now enjoying a modest comeback due to conservation efforts, including those by sustainable forestry concessions certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

4. Looking at their soulful faces, you can see why the Malay called these highly intelligent creatures—who share 96.4% of our DNA—“people of the forest.”

Orangutans, mother and babies
Photo credit: iStock

Orangutans lost more than 80% of their habitat in the last twenty years, mostly due to irresponsible palm oil cultivation, deforestation, hunting, poaching and the illegal pet trade. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered; Bornean orangutans are endangered.

5.Today, the Sumatran tiger—the last of Indonesia’s tigers—number fewer than 400.

Sumatran Tiger couple
Photo credit: iStock

Deforestation and rampant poaching led to the extinction of this tiger’s Javan and Balinese relatives and now threaten the Sumatran’s survival, too. The South China tiger, which hasn’t been spotted in the wild for 25 years, is now considered “functionally extinct.” The endangered Amur tiger of the Russian Far East, northern China and the Korean peninsula numbers around 450.

6. As their pre-historic appearance may suggest, rhinoceroses are among the oldest groups of mammals on the planet, but we could lose them one day soon.

Photo credit: iStock

Hunters are killing them off in droves, as rhino horns fetch high prices for use in folk remedies. There are only about 35 Javan rhinos left; the numbers are scarcely better for Sumatran rhinos. The black rhinoceros of Namibia and coastal East Africa is also critically endangered.

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