What is endangered species?
What is endangered species? And what is this Red list they end up on? Is it a top list of organisms? The IUCN (Intenational Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of endangered species is an organization that together with scientists all over the world gathers data on all organisms to determine how threatened they are. Every type of organism has different criteria’s on how many of them there need to be, but with most organisms they look at the breeding population. So for example: there are Orcas (killer whales) living all over the world, and we have a large total amount of them, but most of their populations are threathened because of the small population’s size in the different regions.
The goal for IUCN is to have all animals classified on their list. The classifications are data deficient, least concerned, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct.
The classification, data deficient, does not mean that the animals are not threatened, but that the data on them at the moment is not efficient to make an assessment of risk of extinction.
Least concerned is the organisms that do have enough data collected, but are not at risk of getting extinct in the near future.
The near threatened organisms are likely to become endangered in the near future if we do not make a change to save them.
The vulnerable organisms are at high risk of becoming endangered in the wild.
The endangered organisms are at high risk of getting extinct in the wild.
the critically endangered are at an extremely high risk of getting extinct in the wild.
Extinct in the wild is self-explanatory, they only exist in captivity, and all natural populations are gone.
The extinct organisms are that there are no more known individuals remaining on the planet.
So “endangered” has a lot of different meaning, but it all comes down to how badly threatened the organisms are and what we can do to help them recover. IUCN started to assess organisms in the 1960’s, now in 2013 almost 75,000 species have been evaluated and over 20,000 of them are threatened. We have a total of 709 animal species and 90 plant species that are extinct.In all the threatened categories over 11,000 animals and over 10,000 plants are threatened to extinction. For the plants this is over half of the classified plant species on the planet and for the animals it’s 1/5 of all the classified animals.
One thing that is important for the classification is if the organisms are endemic or not. Endemic means that these organisms are only found wild in small parts of the world, like the Koalas and kangaroos, they are only found wild in Australia.
Can this be reversed? Can we do anything? To hear that most of the living organisms are threatened is hard, but it can be reversed. We have one of the best evidence of that in South Africa. The African Black Oyster Cather (Haematopus moquini) is endemic to South Africa and Namibia. They were classified as endangered, but are since 2014 seen as near threatened and coming back in numbers. How did this happen? One major thing was that the government banned four-wheel driving on the beaches. The Oyster Cather lays it’s eggs on sand dunes, their eggs and chicks are sand colored, so they were driven over by four-wheels and killed. Another problem was the domestic animals where dogs and cats would attack the nest when not controlled by their owners. The government also changed the rules and regulation on when, how, and where you can have your animals run loose. During the top breeding season the domestic animals need to be under control. With this small change we got this endemic bird species back to our coastline.