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Rare species are organisms that are considered to be very uncommon. They can include both plants and animals. A rare animal can be an endangered species; most rare organisms are considered threatened, as they cannot recover quickly from catastrophic events and face the threat of rapid population decline.
Animal species that are considered to be rare do not have to be endangered. They can simply be found in a small concentrated area. Such areas are usually remote and very isolated from the rest of the world. In some cases, they may not be threatened at all, naturally existing in small numbers.
An official government body may declare a species as rare. States, national governments, and provinces have all designated rare plants and animals. To be listed as rare, a species must usually consist of less than 10,000 worldwide.
The United States is home to many rare species. The Laysan Duck of Hawaii is a rare bird species. A rare plant species, the Virginia Round-leaf Birch, can be found in Cressy Creek, Virginia. The showy Indian clover, ash meadows stick-leaf, and baker's larkspur, all rare plants, grow in the United States as well.
New Zealand lists several species as being rare, including the black robin and the kakapo. Rare reptile species include the Aruba Island rattlesnake and the Abingdon Island tortoise of Ecuador, while the Javan rhinoceros and the cao-vit crested gibbon, both of Vietnam, are listed as rare mammal species. The Lord Howe Island stick insect is a well-known rare insect species in the scientific community.
Earth's rarest animals exist in numbers fewer than 50. Less than 30 Vancouver Island marmots exist, while the baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, has less than 20 animals of its kind remaining. The Seychelles sheath-tailed bat is listed as rare with fewer than 50 bats left in existence. Animals with fewer than 100 species left include the tamaraw, or dwarf water buffalo, the northern hairy-nosed wombat, and the Hispid hare.
Food chains make no distinction regarding rare animals. Small animals, normally a source of prey, can be rare. The Riverine rabbit is one example. Larger, predatory creatures, such as the Iberian lynx and Ethiopian wolf, are also considered rare species.
Many other rare species exist with numbers between 200 to 1,000. Several types of primates, including the yellow-tailed wooly monkey, Tonkin snub-nosed monkey, black-faced lion tamarin, and greater bamboo lemur, are listed as rare. The giant panda, one of the most well-known endangered species in the world, is also a rare species.