9 Endemic Species Found in Only One Place in the World

A Formosan rock macaque sits in a tree branch looking upward.
Formosan Rock Macaque.

Ken Chen / 500px / Getty Images

Endemic species are geographically constrained to one particular place on the planet. They often form in biologically isolated areas such as islands and large bodies of water, though humanity has pushed some continent-based animals to an endemic state through hunting and habitat loss. Unfortunately, due to their geographic isolation, endemic species run a higher risk of extinction.

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Hawaiian Honeycreeper

Bright red Hawaiian honeycreeper sits on a small branch with green leaves.

Sami Sarkis / Getty Images

As their name suggests, honeycreepers are endemic to Hawaii. Beautiful song birds with distinctive beaks, honeycreepers specialize in probing flowers for nectar, and have a particular taste for the flower for which they are named. Their population is declining, having been driven to extinction by hunters, disease, habitat loss, competition from invasive species, and predation by human-introduced animals like rats, cats, and dogs. Efforts are underway to protect honeycreepers by eradicating avian flu-carrying mosquitoes, protecting their habitat, and removing invasive species.

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Lemurs of Madagascar

A ring-tailed lemur with bright yellow eyes sits on a wooden fence post in a park.

Tatjana Kabanova / Shutterstock

Madagascar, home of the lemur, is one of the global hotspots for endemic species. There are 111 species and subspecies of lemurs. The smallest lemur would easily fit in your hand, while the largest can top 25 pounds. Many lemurs live in matriarchal societies where females call the shots. Most species spend the majority of their time in the trees and travel the forest canopy climbing and leaping — as agile as any monkey.

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Formosan Rock Macaque

Two Formosan macaques, an older one inspecting a younger one.

ufoncz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Formosan rock macaques are a small (less than two feet in length) species of monkey endemic to the island of Taiwan. They are listed as a protected species because of over-hunting and habitat loss. They are prized for use in medical experiments and have been hunted by locals due to damage to crops. Their numbers fell to an all-time low in the late 1980s, but the population has since rebounded thanks to stronger conservation efforts.

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Rhinos of Java

A Javan rhinoceros and calf in a wooden enclosure.

ImagineImages / Getty Images

Once the most widespread Asian rhinoceroses on the planet, Javan rhinos have been hunted to near extinction. As of 2021, the total number remaining is estimated to be approximately 60 individuals, all in Ujung Kulon National Park. The animals are valued for medicinal products and by poachers for their horns. Javan rhinos face an uncertain future of disease and health problems caused by inbreeding. Rhinos don't do well in zoos in general, and the Javans have fared even worse; the last captive died in an Australian zoo in 1907.

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Philippine Crocodile

Side profile of Philippine crocodile head with its snout closed.

Peter Wey / Shutterstock

This freshwater crocodile lives only in the Philippines. It is relatively small, as crocodiles go, reaching no more than 10 feet in length. Once hunted for its hide, the Philippine crocodile has had protected status since 2001. Major threats to this critically endangered species are competition with humans for habitat and entanglement in fishing nets. There are only an estimated 100 known Philippine crocs in the wild.

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Sinarapan of the Philippines

extremely tiny silver-colored sinarapan fish against grey-brown backdrop

Emerson Sy / Fishbase.se


At a maximum length of one inch and rarely longer than half an inch, the sinarapan is the world's smallest commercially harvested fish. The fish are native to the Philippines and are found in only a few freshwater lakes and river systems in that country. They are prized as a food source in Asia. In addition to having to dodge fishermen's nets, sinarapan are under threat from larger invasive species that find them as tasty as humans do. Due to insufficient data, sinarapan are not currently rated by the IUCN.

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Santa Cruz Kangaroo Rat

A Merriam's kangaroo rat surrounded by green foliage.

John Cancalosi / Getty Images

The Santa Cruz kangaroo rat gets its name from its distinctive large hind legs. In the past, this rare animal could be found in the mountains south of San Francisco, but its population has been pushed to a single parcel in the Santa Cruz Sandhills. One of 23 subspecies of kangaroo rat found in California, the Santa Cruz variety is under a real threat of extinction because of dwindling populations and health problems stemming from low genetic diversity. Their loss would be a blow to Santa Cruz mountains — the kangaroo rat is a keystone species that supports many other species; its loss would send a ripple of damage through the entire food web. Pictured: Merriam's kangaroo rat.

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Galápagos Tortoise

A Galapagos tortoise standing in a field of green grass.

Pandanus / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Galápagos tortoises are the largest living tortoise — fully grown adults can tip the scales at over 650 pounds and grow to be 4 feet long. Native to the seven islands in the Galápagos archipelago, this long-lived species can live to be 150 years old. Though still threatened after a few centuries of over-hunting, Galápagos tortoises have been making a strong comeback in recent years thanks to the development of the Galápagos National Park and a successful captive breeding program. Unfortunately, the Floreana giant tortoise and the Pinta giant tortoise are functionally extinct.

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Haast Tokoeka Kiwi

A small Haast tokoeka kiwi held in a scientist's hands.

Hal Beral / Getty Images

The Haast tokoeka kiwi is a beautiful, unique bird that lives in Haast, New Zealand. This kiwi was classified as a distinct species in 1993. It is considered “threatened nationally critical” in New Zealand with only 400 known remaining. Most Haast tokoeka kiwis live in the Haast Kiwi Sanctuary where predators, like stoats, are controlled — allowing the population to grow.

View Article Sources
  1. Mittermeier, R., 2019. Hope for Madagascar and its lemurs. IUCN.

  2. World Wildlife Fund. n.d. Javan Rhino.

  3. Corpuz, M., Paller, V. and Ocampo, P., 2015. Ichthyofaunal Survey in Selected Freshwater Habitats in Camarines Sur, PhilippinesAsian Journal of Biodiversity, 6(1). doi:10.7828/ajob.v6i1.696