The conservation status of a species is an
indicator of the likelihood of that species remaining extant either in the
present day or the near future. Many factors are taken into account when
assessing the conservation status of a species, not simply the number remaining,
but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding
success rates, known threats, and so on.
The International Union for the Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is the world's main authority on the
conservation status of species and is the best-known worldwide
conservation status listing and ranking system. They produce the IUCN Red
List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red
Data List). It was created in 1963 and is the world's most comprehensive
inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
The IUCN Red List identifies the precise
criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies.
These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. The aim
is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers,
as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.
It is widely considered to be the most objective and authoritative system for
classifying species in terms of the risk of extinction. They aim to have the
category of every species re-evaluated every 5 years if possible, or at least
every ten years.
In 2009, the World Conservation Union (IUCN)
2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,
the latest update to their
of species' extinction risks.
There are three primary groups of risk,
Extinct, Threatened and Least Concern, and this is split into risk categories,
where over time the number of categories have increased to in 2007 where there
are 9 categories in use. They are:
(EX) - given to a species when the last known individual is known to have
- Extinct in the Wild (EW) - where the
only living members of the species are in captivity or as a population outside
its historic range.
- Critically Endangered (CR) - are at a
high risk of becoming extinct
- Endangered (EN) - a population of an
organism which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in
numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters.
- Vulnerable (VU) - a species which is
likely to become endangered unless circumstances threatening its survival
- Near Threatened (NT) - a species
which is expected to be extinct in the near future
- Least Concern (LC) - given to a
species which have been evaluated but do not qualify under any other category.
- Data Deficient (DD) - Used for those
species when available information on abundance and distributions is not
- Not Evaluated (NE) - the species has
not been evaluated.
Seven of these categories are represented by
using graphics to show the status of the species, which makes it easier for all
around the world to understand. The following table contains the graphics for
the latest version 3.1 set of symbols, and we have decided to use this set of
symbols amongst our wildlife pages when relevant.
Lower risk categories
||Least Concern (LC or LR/lc), lowest
risk. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant
taxa are included in this category.
||Near Threatened (NT or LR/nt), is
close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in
the near future.
considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild
considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
||Critically Endangered (CR),
facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
||Extinct in the Wild (EW), known
only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population
(or populations) well outside the past range.
||Extinct (EX), there is no
reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
||Data Deficient (DD), inadequate
information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of