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IUCN assessment on species facing extinction


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed species for its survival watchlist said that over 25% of them are now at high risk of vanishing forever.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important International Institutions, Conservation of Ecology and Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the IUCN findings
  2. About the IUCN and its Red list

Highlights of the IUCN findings

  • Some 28% of the 1,38,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at high risk of vanishing forever.
  • Habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal trade have hammered global wildlife populations for decades, and climate change is now kicking in as a direct threat as well, the IUCN reported.
  • Some 37% of the 1,200 shark and ray species assessed by experts are directly threatened by extinction, a third more than only seven years ago, it warned.
  • Indonesia’s fearsome Komodo dragons were listed as “endangered” as the species “is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change” said the the IUCN, with rising sea levels expected to shrink its tiny habitat by at least 30% over the next 45 years.

IUCN on Raptor Species under Threat

  • Around 30% of the 557 raptor species around the world are threatened by extinction to some degree.
  • Some vulture populations have declined by over 95% in Asian countries such as India because of the widespread use of diclofenac (which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
  • The population of Philippine eagles (Critically Endangered under IUCN Red List), the largest variety of eagles in the world, decreased rapidly in the last decades due to extensive deforestation.
  • In Africa, vulture populations have decreased by an average of 95% in rural areas over the last 30 years as the result of shooting and poisoning through feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with diclofenac.
  • The Annobon scops-owl, restricted to Annobon Island off West Africa, was recently classified as ‘critically endangered’ under the IUCN Red List because of rapid habitat loss and degradation.

About the IUCN and its Red list

  • Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.
  • The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity.  It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
  • The IUCN Red List is used by government agencies, wildlife departments, conservation-related non-governmental organisations (NGOs), natural resource planners, educational organisations, students, and the business community. 

The main objectives are:

  1. Identification and documentation of endangered species.
  2. Providing a global index of the decline of biodiversity.
  3. Developing awareness about the importance of threatened biodiversity.
  4. Defining conservation priorities at the local level and guiding conservation action.

Every four years, IUCN convenes the IUCN World Conservation Congress to set the global conservation agenda.


About the criteria for the IUCN Red List

The IUCN system uses a set of five quantitative criteria to assess the extinction risk of a given species. In general, these criteria consider:

  1. The rate of population decline.
  2. The geographic range.
  3. Whether the species already possesses a small population size.
  4. Whether the species is very small or lives in a restricted area.
  5. Whether the results of a quantitative analysis indicate a high probability of extinction in the wild.

-Source: The Hindu, Down to Earth Magazine

June 2024