Wildlife Conservation Efforts

IUCN ‘Red List’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IUCN , Red List

Mains level : Conservation of wildlife

  • Mankind’s destruction of nature is driving species to the brink of extinction at an “unprecedented” rate, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.
  • It added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered “Red List”.

Major Highlights

  • Freshwater fish species globally are under grave threat according to the latest edition of the IUCN’s Red List.
  • In fact, over half of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes and more than a third of freshwater fishes in Mexico were threatened with extinction, the list of threatened species released on July 18, 2019, said.
  • The main reasons behind this were the usual suspects, namely loss of free-flowing rivers and agricultural and urban pollution.
  • It was revealed recently that two-thirds of the world’s great rivers no longer flow freely.
  • Another noteworthy factor was competition with and predation by invasive alien species of fish.

About IUCN

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
  • Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.
  • IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • IUCN has observer and consultative status at the United Nations, and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity.
  • It was involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

IUCN Red List

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  • It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of all species and subspecies.
  • A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
  • The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years.
  • For plants, the 1997 Red List is the most important source.
  • The formally stated goals of the Red List are-
  1. to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level,
  2. to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity,
  3. to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and
  4. to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.

Red List Categories of IUCN

Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups specified through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. They are:

  • Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species is no longer extant.
  • Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity, cultivation and/or outside native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys.
  • Critically endangered (CR) – in a particularly and extremely critical state.
  • Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of criteria A to E for Endangered.
  • Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the 5 red list criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.
  • Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.
  • Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.
  • Data deficient (DD)
  • Not evaluated (NE)
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