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IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Topics Covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Conservation related issues.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Categorization of IUCN red list, features and criteria, recent additions from India to the list.


Context: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added about 1,840 new species to its updated “Red List of Threatened Species”. The list now contains over 30,000 species under threat of disappearing.

For Prelims:

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.

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.



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.

Value addition for Mains:

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: the Hindu.