(ANIMAL PICTURES/WILDLIFE) National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has recently undergone a project aimed at photographing some of the world’s most rare animals. The stunning pictures represent Sartore’s goal to show audiences what they’re on the verge of losing. He prefers to take portraits of his animal subjects because it allows for both the biggest and smallest animals to receive equal weight.

“Some of the frogs I’ve photographed are the size of a thumbnail, and this is a way for me to put them on equal footing with bigger animals like lions,” according to Sartore.

The animals featured below are only 10 of the 2,300 species considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

1. Amur Leopard

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One of the most rare sub-species of leopard, the Amur Leopard is only found in one part of the world. Photo Credit: National Geographic

The Amur Leopard is only found in the Primorye region of Russia. A 2007 consensus counted only 14 to 20 adults and 5 to 6 cubs left in the wild. Similar to other leopards, the Amur leopard can run at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. This incredible animal has been reported to leap more than 19 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically. The Amur leopard is also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard.

2. Sumatran Rhinoceros

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Harapan, a four-year-old male Sumatran rhinoceros at Florida’s White Oak Conservation Center. Photo Credit: National Geographic

The total population for this particular rhino is listed at less than 275. The species is currently struggling to survive on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Like their other rhino brothers, Sumatrans have been heavily targeted by poachers for their horns. They are the smallest of the living rhinoceroses and the only Asian rhino with two horns.

3. Western Lowland Gorilla

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A six-week-old female western lowland gorilla gets photographed at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photo Credit: National Geographic

Western Lowland Gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They were once the most numerous and widespread gorilla species in the world, but poaching and disease (specifically the Ebola virus) has brought their total population down by more than 60 percent in the last 20 to 25 years.


— Kayla Newcomer, exclusive to Global Animal