IUCN, which is the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was founded on 5th October 1948 in Fontainebleau, France. The IUCN Red List was established in 1964 which underwent several changes over the decades and now is the world's most informative source about the status of different animals, plants, and fungal species.
What is the IUCN Red List?
It categorizes different species in a comprehensive system based on the global threat to each animal, and whether they are endangered, threatened, or extinct. The following are some categories:
Data Deficient (DD): This included the threatened species about which much information is not available. Studies are still going on to understand these species. In 2010, 6702 species were identified as Data Deficient, which included several animals, plants, and Protista. Example: Somali Elephant Shrew.
Least Concern (LC): These species are not threatened and do not need any special conservation efforts, viz they are of least concern. Example: Golden Eagle.
Near Threatened (NT): These species might become threatened and extinct soon. Example: Koala.
Vulnerable (VU): These species are likely to become endangered unless their environment becomes suitable for survival. This is mostly caused by habitat loss. Example: Black Buck.
Endangered (EN): These species are likely to become extinct in the future due to the declining population. The decline could be due to habitat loss, or poaching. Example: Red Panda.
Critically Endangered (CR): These species are at extreme risk of being extinct. These animals need maximum attention and care. Example: Amur Leopard.
Extinct in the Wild (EW): These animals are extinct in their natural habitat and their last living species are kept in captivity. Example: Spix's Macaw.
Extinct (EX): These species no longer exist on the planet. Example: Woolly Mammoth.
Hence one can say that the IUCN Red List in a significant indicator of biodiversity. A list is a tool based on which the different governments and organizations frame their policies and infrastructures. The list provides data about the current population, their natural habitat, whether they are threatened by illegal human activities, etc. It is used to frame conservation policies in different regions of the world.
The IUCN Red List, which is used to comprehensively study the species, also indicates the changing statuses of organisms. For example, Downlisting (that is going down in the list) indicates an improvement in the numbers of the species. But recent years trends have only indicated a severe threat to biodiversity all around the world. Currently, more than 120,000 species are there on the Red List, with more than 32,000 species threatened with extinction. Hence we can say that there are efforts needed to identify the key sites and habitats of the species and protect them with strong jurisdiction. IUCN Red List provides the guidance needed for that.
If you want to sit in your home and contribute to protecting these species, then check out the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Species Adoption Program. You can select the species of your choice- https://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx
Author: Subhasri Banerjee
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