Endangered species

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Conservation status
Bufo periglenes, the Golden Toad, was last recorded on May 15, 1989
Lower Risk

Other categories

Related topics

IUCN Red List category abbreviations (version 3.1, 2001)
Comparison of Red List classes above
and NatureServe status below
NatureServe category abbreviations
Golden lion tamarin, an endemic and one of the endangered species saved from extinction in Brazil
A visual representation of the declining percentages of endangered plant and animal species in Brazil from 2014 to 2022. The sidebar graph highlights the contrast between plant and animal conservation efforts.
critically endangered species. Note the wing tags
used for population monitoring.

An endangered species is a

habitat restoration

Human activity is a significant cause in causing some species to become endangered.[2][3][4][5]

Conservation status

Lake Saimaa, Finland, Saimaa ringed seals are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 400 individuals.[6]


extinct. Multiple factors are considered when assessing the status of a species; e.g., such statistics as the number remaining, the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, or known threats.[7] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system.[8]

Over 50% of the world's species are estimated to be at risk of extinction,[9] but the frontier between categories such as 'endangered', 'rare', or 'locally extinct' species is often difficult to draw given the general paucity of data on most of these species. This is notably the case in the world Ocean where endangered species not seen for decades may go extinct unnoticed.[10]

Internationally, 195 countries have signed an accord to create

Species Recovery Plans

IUCN Red List

The Siberian tiger is an Endangered (EN) tiger subspecies. Three tiger subspecies are already extinct (see List of carnivorans by population).[11]
Blue-throated macaw, a critically endangered bird
Brown spider monkey, a critically endangered mammal
Siamese crocodile, a critically endangered reptile
American burying beetle
, an endangered species of insect
Kemp's ridley sea turtle, a critically endangered reptile
grey wolf
. Approximately 143 are living in the wild.

Though labeled a list, the

Critically Endangered" (CR) species. In 2012, the IUCN Red List listed 3,079 animal and 2,655 plant species as endangered (EN) worldwide.[12]

In Brazil

Brazil is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, if not the most. It houses not only the Amazon forest but the Atlantic forest, the savanna-like Cerrado among other biomes.[13] Due to the high density of some of its well-preserved rainforests, wildlife trafficking, which along with deforestation is one of the biggest endangerment drivers in Brazil, has become a challenge. Brazil has a broad legal system meant to protect the environment, including its Constitution,[14] as well as several federal, state and local government agencies tasked with protecting the fauna and flora, fining individuals or companies linked to environmental crimes and confiscating illegally taken wildlife. Though such agencies can collect their data, each system operates relatively on its own when it comes to wildlife trafficking. However, both the agencies and the NGO's working in Brazil agree that the birds account for about 80% of trafficked species in the country.[15]

The relation between wildlife smuggling, other environment crimes under the Brazilian law such as deforestation, and endangered species is particularly intricate and troubling since the rarer the animal or plant gets the most targeted and valuable they become in the black market, which leads to more endangered species in its turn.[16]

Additionally, some environment experts and scientists point to the disbanding of environment agencies and the repeal of laws in Brazil under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro as one of the reasons behind a surge in the number of endangered species.[17] In one occasion during his presidency some fines totaling US$3.1 billion on environment criminals were revoked and at least one fine (related to illegal fishing) imposed on Bolsonaro himself was cancelled and the agent who fined him was demoted.[18]

In the past, Brazil has successfully saved the endemic golden lion tamarin from extinction. Massive campaigns to raise awareness among people by NGO's and governments, which included printing depictions of the golden lion tamarin in the 20 reais Brazilian banknotes (still in circulation), are credited with getting the species out of the critically endangered animals list.[19][20]

In the United States

There is data from the United States that shows a correlation between human populations and threatened and endangered species. Using species data from the Database on the Economics and Management of Endangered Species (DEMES) database and the period that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been in existence, 1970 to 1997, a table was created that suggests a positive relationship between human activity and species endangerment.[21]

Impact of Climate Change on Endangered Species

Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is asserted to be one of the leading cause of animal endangerment.

"If we can sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many of them will still have a chance to survive and recover". NASA scientist James Hanson has warned that in order to maintain a climate similar to that under which human civilization developed and similar to that which so many organisms are adapted, we need to quickly reduce the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm). Before the industrial revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rarely rose above 280 ppm; during the 2014 calendar year, carbon dioxide levels fluctuated between 395 and 402" - US National Park Service.


A proportional symbol map of each state's endangered species count

Endangered Species Act

Under the

US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service are held responsible for classifying and protecting endangered species. They are also responsible for adding a particular species to the list, which can be a long, controversial process.[23]

Some endangered species laws are controversial. Typical areas of controversy include criteria for placing a species on the endangered species list and rules for removing a species from the list once its population has recovered. Whether restrictions on land development constitute a "taking" of land by the government; the related question of whether private landowners should be compensated for the loss of uses of their areas; and obtaining reasonable exceptions to protection laws. Also lobbying from hunters and various industries like the petroleum industry, construction industry, and logging, has been an obstacle in establishing endangered species laws.


Obama administration, this policy was reinstated.[24]

Being listed as an endangered species can have negative effect since it could make a species more desirable for collectors and poachers.[25] This effect is potentially reducible, such as in China where commercially farmed turtles may be reducing some of the pressure to poach endangered species.[26]

Another problem with the listing species is its effect of inciting the use of the "shoot, shovel, and shut-up" method of clearing endangered species from an area of land. Some landowners currently may perceive a diminution in value for their land after finding an endangered animal on it. They have allegedly opted to kill and bury the animals or destroy habitat silently. Thus removing the problem from their land, but at the same time further reducing the population of an endangered species.[27] The effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act – which coined the term "endangered species" – has been questioned by business advocacy groups and their publications but is nevertheless widely recognized by wildlife scientists who work with the species as an effective recovery tool. Nineteen species have been delisted and recovered[28] and 93% of listed species in the northeastern United States have a recovering or stable population.[29]

Currently, 1,556 endangered species are under protection by government law. This approximation, however, does not take into consideration the species threatened with endangerment that are not included under the protection of laws like the Endangered Species Act. According to NatureServe's global conservation status, approximately thirteen percent of vertebrates (excluding marine fish), seventeen percent of vascular plants, and six to eighteen percent of fungi are considered imperiled.[30]: 415  Thus, in total, between seven and eighteen percent of the United States' known animals, fungi and plants are near extinction.[30]: 416  This total is substantially more than the number of species protected in the United States under the Endangered Species Act.

Bald eagle
American bison

Ever since humankind began hunting to preserve itself, over-hunting and fishing have been a large and dangerous problem. Of all the species who became extinct due to interference from humankind, the

Eastern timber wolf and sea turtle having been poached to near-extinction. Many began as food sources seen as necessary for survival but became the target of sport. However, due to major efforts to prevent extinction, the bald eagle, or Haliaeetus leucocephalus is now under the category of Least Concern on the red list.[31] A present-day example of the over-hunting of a species can be seen in the oceans as populations of certain whales have been greatly reduced. Large whales like the blue whale, bowhead whale, finback whale, gray whale, sperm whale, and humpback whale are some of the eight whales which are currently still included on the Endangered Species List. Actions have been taken to attempt a reduction in whaling and increase population sizes. The actions include prohibiting all whaling in United States waters, the formation of the CITES treaty which protects all whales, along with the formation of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). But even though all of these movements have been put in place, countries such as Japan continue to hunt and harvest whales under the claim of "scientific purposes".[32]
Over-hunting, climatic change and habitat loss leads in landing species in endangered species list. It could mean that extinction rates could increase to a large extent in the future.

In Canada

Endangered species are addressed through Canada's Species at Risk Act. A species is deemed threatened or endangered when it is on the verge of extinction or extirpation. Once a species is deemed threatened or endangered, the Act requires that a recovery plan to be developed that indicates how to stop or reverse the species' population decline.[33] As of 2021, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) has assessed 369 species as being endangered in Canada.

In India

The World Wide Fund-India raises concern in the longevity of the following animal species: the Red Panda, the Bengal Tiger, the Ganges River Dolphin, the Asian Elephant.[34]

India signed the

Wildlife Protection Act and the also joined the Convention on the International Trade in 1976, to prevent poaching from harming its wildlife.[35]

Invasive species

The introduction of non-indigenous species to an area can disrupt the ecosystem to such an extent that native species become endangered. Such introductions may be termed alien or invasive species. In some cases, the invasive species compete with the native species for food or prey on the natives. In other cases, a stable ecological balance may be upset by predation or other causes leading to unexpected species decline. New species may also carry diseases to which the native species have no exposure or resistance.[36]

Climate change

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) emphasizes that our planet is warming at a rate faster than any time in the past 10,000 years, necessitating species to adapt to new climate patterns, such as variations in rainfall and longer, warmer summers.[37] For example, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service highlighted efforts to understand and mitigate the impact of climate change on species through scientific research, modeling, and conservation actions. This includes evaluating the current condition of species, their genetic variation, and how changes in their environment may affect their survival.[38]

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that the approximately 1°C rise in mean global temperature due to human activities is causing serious impacts on species, including changes in abundance, genetic composition, behavior, and survival. The IUCN stresses the importance of environmental policies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions to lessen the impact of climate change on species. Tools like the IUCN Red List and guidelines for assessing species' vulnerability to climate change are vital for conservation efforts.[39]

In addition, climate change can lead to species disappearing from areas where they once thrived, or even going extinct. A study cited by WWF found that one in six species is at risk of extinction due to climate change if no action is taken. The phenomenon of species shifting their ranges in response to changing climates, finding new or shrinking habitats, illustrates the direct impact of global warming on biodiversity.[37]

For example the Emperor Penguins, which rely on Antarctic sea ice for breeding, shelter, and food. The melting of ice sheets poses a direct threat to their survival. Similarly, the Mount Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan, adapted to alpine mountaintops, faces habitat loss due to climate changes in snowfall patterns and rising temperatures. [40]


top predator
, is on the edge of extinction.

Captive breeding

Captive breeding is the process of breeding rare or endangered species in human controlled environments with restricted settings, such as wildlife reserves, zoos, and other conservation facilities. Captive breeding is meant to save species from extinction and so stabilise the population of the species that it will not disappear.[41]

This technique has worked for many species for some time, with probably the oldest known such instances of captive mating being attributed to menageries of European and Asian rulers, an example being the

California condors.[42]

Private farming

Black rhino
Southern bluefin tuna

Whereas poaching substantially reduces endangered animal populations, legal, for-profit, private farming does the opposite. It has substantially increased the populations of the southern black rhinoceros and southern white rhinoceros. Richard Emslie, a scientific officer at the IUCN, said of such programs, "Effective law enforcement has become much easier now that the animals are largely privately owned... We have been able to bring local communities into conservation programs. There are increasingly strong economic incentives attached to looking after rhinos rather than simply poaching: from Eco-tourism or selling them on for a profit. So many owners are keeping them secure. The private sector has been key to helping our work."[43]

Conservation experts view the effect of China's

South-Eastern Asia – many of which are endangered – as "poorly understood".[44] Although they commend the gradual replacement of turtles caught wild with farm-raised turtles in the marketplace – the percentage of farm-raised individuals in the "visible" trade grew from around 30% in 2000 to around 70% in 2007[45] – they worry that many wild animals are caught to provide farmers with breeding stock. The conservation expert Peter Paul van Dijk noted that turtle farmers often believe that animals caught wild are superior breeding stock. Turtle farmers may, therefore, seek and catch the last remaining wild specimens of some endangered turtle species.[45]

In 2015, researchers in Australia managed to coax southern bluefin tuna to breed in landlocked tanks, raising the possibility that fish farming may be able to save the species from overfishing.[46]


See also

IUCN Red List


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  5. S2CID 256768064
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  21. .
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  31. . Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  32. .
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  43. ^ "He's black, and he's back! Private enterprise saves southern Africa's rhino from extinction" Archived 2017-09-26 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent, June 17, 2008
  44. from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  45. ^ a b "Turtle farms threaten rare species, experts say Archived 2012-02-18 at the Wayback Machine". Fish Farmer, 30 March 2007. Their source is an article by James Parham, Shi Haitao and two other authors, published in February 2007 in the journal Conservation Biology.
  46. ^ The Top 10 Everything of 2009: Top 10 Scientific Discoveries: 5. Breeding Tuna on Land, Time magazine, December 8, 2009.

Further reading

External links