Explorers against Extinction campaigns against species extinction, trying to generate awareness of the issues and raise funds for front-line conservation projects.
So how do you know if a species is threatened with extinction? The accepted authority is the International Union for Conservation’s Red list, established in 1964 and constantly updated and expanded. It is now the most authoritative source of information on the conservation status of animals, plant and fungi species. Currently there are over 98,500 species covered by the Red List and of these more than 27,000 are threatened with extinction. This includes 25% of mammals and 40% of amphibians.
The IUCN Red List is used by governments, wildlife departments, educational institutions and conservation focused NGO’s and charities like EAE to obtain the latest information and statistics on wildlife in general and individual species in particular. The IUCN’s aim is to have assessed over 160,000 species by 2020 to produce a truly joined-up picture of the state of life on Earth.
So how does the Red List assess species? It contains nine potential categories.
Two of these are for species not yet studied; DD – Data Deficient and NE – Not evaluated.
The next seven are:
LC – Least concern
NT – Near Threatened
VU – Vunerable
EN – Endangered
CR – Critically Endangered
EW – Extinct in the Wild
EX – Extinct
For a species to be called Threatened it must be in either the VU, EN or CR categories.
So how does the IUCN decide on which category to put a species in? It’s not just done on numbers as a species might have a healthy population but if that population is packed into a small area it is susceptible to a disease outbreak or loss of habitat. It also assessed the risks to a species and the current trend, trying to assess the immediate future over 10 years or three generations.
The following infographic explains these criteria in more details.