IUCN Red List: What You Need to Know

Title Case Side

About the IUCN Red List:

The early beginnings of The IUCN Red List started in the 1950s with an index card system that was used to file data on endangered mammals and birds. In the early 1960s the index card was transformed into a two-volume set of data sheets. They were then presented in loose-leaf paper format within red binders and these drafts were not available for the general public. In 1964 the first comprehensive list of threatened mammals and birds was accumulated and published – permitting public access to the data. In 2000, The IUCN Red List was free supported by the internet, this was enabling broader access to figures and permitting for regular updates.

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most all-inclusive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to their niche within wildlife. For each evaluated species, The IUCN Red List provides information on population size and trends; topographical range and habitat requirements. To date more than 76,000 species have been assessed with more than 22,000 at risk of extinction. The IUCN Red List goal is to rise the number of species evaluated from the current count to at least 160,000 by 2020, improving the taxonomic coverage.

CITES treaty logo

About the CITES Treaty:

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. When the ideas for CITES were first formed, in the 1960s, international debate of the guidelines of wildlife trade for conservation resolutions was something reasonably new. Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, and medicines. Levels of mistreatment of some animal and plant species are in elevation with trade, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of seriously depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the presence of a treaty to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.



A species covered as an endangered species in the IUCN Red List is the African Penguin, Spheniscus demersus. It is confined to southern African waters and breeds at 25 islands and four mainland sites in Namibia and South Africa. This species of penguin is undergoing a very fast population decline, which led to its up listing to Endangered in 2010, this is largely attributed to food scarcities due to commercial fishing and environmental instabilities. Other threats consist of: egg collection, oil spills, competition with Cape Fur Seals, for food and displacement from breeding sites, mortality from fishing nets and predation by sharks, Kelp Gulls, and feral cats.

I found the IUCN website to be very helpful and educational in many aspects. The site was easy to navigate and extremely organized. The IUCN organization makes it really comprehensible to recognize their mission, and how you as the reader can make a difference in helping an actual endangered species, not just recognizing the flagship endangered species that the commercials portray.


One thought on “IUCN Red List: What You Need to Know

  1. You really go in depth on the red list and CITES. I don’t know if you know this about me, but penguins are my favorite animals. So I really enjoyed this post. I had no idea that Africa had penguins and it really upsets me that they’re endangered.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s