Endangered animals: what is an endangered species?

What is the IUCN Red List?

This is a very comprehensive global inventory that references and allows the risk of extinction of thousands of species to be assessed. The IUCN Red List works by categories. There are nine: Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD), Not Assigned (NE).

Only the “vulnerable”, “endangered”, and “critically endangered” categories are threatened. For the latter, it is the last step before extinction.

To know if a species falls into these categories, different parameters are used. For example, the more a species has a reduced number, or reduced or fragmented ranges, the more it tends to be threatened. The rate of decline is also analyzed.

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More than 77,300 species have been replaced, and more than 22,700 of them are threatened with extinction. It is estimated that 41% of amphibians, 25% of mammals, and 13% of birds are threatened.

In order to better understand what an endangered species is, Craig Hilton-Taylor, leader of the Red List team within the IUCN, gives us his insight.

What are the criteria for each Red List category?

Craig Hilton-Taylor : The criteria for including a species in a particular category on the Red List are very complex. Among other things, they include population size and trend (is the population increasing or decreasing?), but also the area occupied by the species and the fragmentation of this habitat. The aim is for the criteria to be consistent across very different species and habitat types, so that they can be applied for example to species that occur globally, often in large numbers, as well as to species that do not exists only in one place and usually in small numbers.

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What measures are put in place when a species is declared threatened?

Craig Hilton-Taylor: Many countries use the Red List to inform their policy and conservation priorities, so there is a good chance that a species listed as threatened could lead to better protection or specific action being taken – but that is not not automatic and depends on the situation and legislative process in each country. That said, a species declared threatened is often a call to action that can catalyze conservation efforts. Often these efforts are undertaken by other international or national conservation organizations and in some cases the lists are used by various donor organizations planning species conservation to determine their own funding priorities and they may even launch campaigns. targeted funding.

What are the most well-known species found in each category?

Craig Hilton-Taylor: Many emblematic and charismatic species are threatened with extinction. For example, among the critically endangered species are three species of rhinoceros – the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Africa, and rhinos in Sumatra (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and Java (Rhinoceros sondaicus) in Asia, as well as the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). In the Endangered category, we have the tiger (panthera tigris) or the mountain gorilla (beringei gorilla). Among the emblematic species classified as Vulnerable describe the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), the GIRAFE (Giraffe camelopardalis) or the snow leopard (panthera uncia).

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How often are species reassessed to see if their category still matches them?

Craig Hilton-Taylor: The aim is to reassess all Red List species every ten years; after ten years, if they are not reassessed, the assessments are flagged as “to be updated”. If a species is known to be in rapid decline, reassessments may be carried out annually or even more frequently if necessary. For some taxonomic groups, for example birds, Critically Endangered species tend to be reassessed every year, while for most other birds they are only reassessed once every four years. The rate of reassessment is highly dependent on the availability of resources to undertake the work.

How many endangered species are there in France?

Craig Hilton-Taylor: 480 species in mainland France (including Corsica) are threatened. In the overseas territories, 1,456 species are threatened.

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Which country has the most endangered species?

Craig Hilton-Taylor: The most biodiverse countries also tend to be those with the highest number of threatened species – Madagascar has 3,732 species listed as threatened, Ecuador (including the Galapagos) has 2,630, Mexico 2 245 and Indonesia 2,223.

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