Endangered Species of the Amazon Rainforest

Instructor: Amanda Robb
In this lesson, we'll be exploring the endangered species of the Amazon rainforest. Explore rare, unique plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth and the threats to their survival.

What Is an Endangered Species?

Picture a dense, tropical jungle. These warm, wet climates of the tropics are host to the greatest biodiversity, or number of different species, on Earth. From multicolored dart frogs to tall trees and sleepy sloths, the rainforests of the Amazon have some of the most unique species on Earth. In fact, scientists estimate that there are over 100,000 unique species in the Amazon rainforest alone, with more being discovered each year.

Now, picture a new Amazon. One with large patches of trees missing, slashed and burned to make room for livestock. As global temperatures increase and climate change continues, scientists believe another mass extinction could be on the way, wiping out thousands of species, particularly in this lush biome. Currently, many animals are endangered, or in danger of going extinct, in the Amazon rainforest. Today we'll look at examples of both animals and plants, causes of endangerment, and conservation efforts.


Although biodiversity of animals is high in the rainforest, the threats of hunting and habitat loss are causing the number of species to decrease or become endangered.

Red Uakari

One of the rarest animals in the Amazon is the red uakari. This unique primate has a bright red face with a bald head and long fur covering the rest of its body. Although it lacks a long tail like other primates, the uakari uses its long arms and legs to live an arboreal life in the trees. These animals can only be found in the Amazon river basin, preferring heavily flooded areas near water sources.

The main threats to the uakari are habitat loss and hunting. Since the uakari has a unique preference for flooded forests, it is unable to relocate when the forest is clear cut for farm land or timber. In addition, the water sources the uakari enjoys are also enjoyed by humans, increasing the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict.

A male uakari makes his home in the tree tops

Golden Poison Dart Frog

Don't be fooled by its small size; although the golden poison dart frog is only about two inches long, it's one of the most poisonous animals on Earth. This brightly colored yellow frog has strong enough poison in its skin to kill ten grown men. The bright colors ward off predators, indicating its toxicity. However, this animal only lives in a small part of the Amazon rainforest in Colombia. Thus, due to habitat destruction, this animal has made it to the endangered species list.

Brazilian Three Toed Sloth

You might think monkeys and birds are the main residents of the canopy, but another endangered species makes the treetops its home. The Brazilian three toed sloth lives in the coastal rainforest in eastern Brazil and spends most of its life in the trees. The common depiction of sloths as lazy is actually quite accurate. Sloths spend between 15 and 20 hours a day sleeping. When they do finally wake, they mostly remain motionless except to eat, so much so that they even grow algae and fungi on their fur. But, don't confuse slow with weak. These sloths have three large claws and strong muscles to hold themselves in the trees for most of their life.

Deforestation makes these animals vulnerable to extinction. Their habitat is being removed to create coffee farms and farmers are under pressure to clear the forest for new land.

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