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IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.



The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released its latest Red List of Threatened Species.


Key facts:

  1. Some 902 species are officially extinct.
  2. 30 per cent of the species (38,543) that it assessed (138,374) face the threat of extinction.
  3. Some 80 species are extinct in the wild, 8,404 are critically endangered, 14,647 are endangered, 15,492 are vulnerable and 8,127 are near threatened.
  4. Some 71,148 species are of least concern, while 19,404 are data deficient.


Important Species mentioned in the report:

  1. The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) moved from endangered to least concern while the Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) moved from critically endangered to endangered.
  2. The world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), has been moved from vulnerable to endangered. The species is endemic to Indonesia and occurs only in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores.


What is IUCN red list of threatened species?

It is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

current affairs

current affairs

How are species categorised?

It uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species.


The IUCN Red List Categories:

  • The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).
  • Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.


Utility of the red list:

  • It brings into focus the ongoing decline of Earth’s biodiversity and the influence humans have on life on the planet. It provides a globally accepted standard with which to measure the conservation status of species over time.
  • Scientists can analyze the percentage of species in a given category and how these percentages change over time; they can also analyze the threats and conservation measures that underpin the observed trends.

Sources: down to earth.