Endangered Species Definition
Endangered species are species of animals or plants that are at risk of extinction, either in a specific political jurisdiction or globally. These organisms are listed as endangered because they are threatened and are likely to go extinct in the near future.
Currently, Planet Earth is experiencing its 6th major animal extinction event. Like over 40% of amphibians, and 1 out of 4 of the world’s mammals are threatened with extinction.
Animal extinction could be due to factors like poaching, invasive species, loss of genetic variation, overexploitation, pollution, human overpopulation, and habitat loss. However, there is a long list of animals that are extinct already. So globally, efforts are being made to conserve and protect other animals from going extinct too.
Hence the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) has a list called the Red list that tells the conservation status of many species, globally. These endangered species or endangered animals are the reason for extensive conservation efforts like habitat restoration and captive breeding. Also, many countries have laws that forbid hunting, creates protected areas, or restrict land development in order to protect conservation-reliant species.
Moreso, there is a day set aside every year to celebrate success stories of endangered species and to learn about other species still in danger. This day is the Endangered species Day, marked every third Friday of May, every year.
Approximately, over 50 percent of the world’s species are estimated to be at risk of extinction. Hence, Internationally, 195 countries have signed an accord to create Biodiversity Action Plans that will protect endangered and other threatened species e.g the Species Recovery Plans In the United States.
What causes species to be Endangered or Extinct?
Currently, the extinction rate is occurring faster than it should naturally, and this can be credited to human’s impact on the environment. Recently there is a rapid loss of biodiversity and climate change caused by humans interference with the ecosystem. Also, aside from humans impact, there are natural forces that may cause stress on species or in worse cases cause an animal population to go extinct. Let’s review some of these factors that cause extinction or critically endangered species.
This factor is very significant. It is one crucial reason why animals and plants become endangered and later extinct. This is because animals and plants rely on their habitat for food and other resources needed for survival. So if their habitat is destroyed or tampered with it, this takes a huge toll on them and their population begins to decline. However, here are some activities that lead to habitat loss:
Geologic and Climate change
Habitat loss can happen naturally in the case of geologic and climate change. For instance, about 65 million years ago, Dinosaurs lost their habitat. Probably because of an asteroid striking the Earth, the hot, dry climate of the Cretaceous period changed very quickly. Hence, the impact of the asteroid forced debris into the atmosphere and reduced the amount of heat and light that reached Earth’s surface. So, the dinosaurs were unable to adapt to the new, cooler habitat and became endangered. Then later they went extinct.
Human migration can cause species to lose their habitat. This loss of habitat leads to increased encounters between wild species and people. As migration and development bring people deeper into a species range, they may have more exposure to wild species. For instance, Poisonous plants and fungi may grow closer to homes and schools. Also, Wild animals may be spotted more frequently.
The fact is these animals are simply patrolling their range, but interaction with people can be deadly. For instance, predators like alligators, polar bears, and mountain lions are brought into close contact with people as they lose their habitat to homes, farms, and businesses built by migrants. These native species may become endangered, as these migrants kill them, through pesticides, hunting, or accidents such as collisions with cars.
Urbanization and Agriculture
Urban people change their environment through their consumption of food, water, energy, and land. They develop their environment for housing, highway construction, industry, and agriculture. Hence reducing the habitat of the native organisms in the environment. This can happen in a different number of ways.
Urbanization can eliminate habitat and native species directly. For instance, in the Amazon rain forest of South America, developers have removed trees and vegetation from hundreds of thousands of acres. This Amazon rain forest is cleared for cattle ranches, logging, and urban use to the detriment of the species’ habitat.
Urbanization can also endanger species indirectly. For instance, some species, like the fig trees of the rain forest, may provide habitat for other species. As these trees are destroyed, species that depend on that tree as a habitat may also become endangered. Plants like vines and mushrooms, with insects like butterflies, live in the rain forest canopy. Also, hundreds of species of tropical birds and mammals such as monkeys live in the rain forest canopy. As trees are cut down, this habitat is lost and these species have less room to live and reproduce.
Loss of habitat definitely happens as urbanization takes place in a species range. Some animals have a range of hundreds of square kilometers. For example, the mountain lion of North America has a range of up to 386 square miles. In order to live and reproduce successfully, a mountain lion patrols this much territory. Sadly, urban areas like Los Angeles, Vancouver, British Columbia, California, and, Canada, grew rapidly during the 20th century. As these urban areas expanded into the wilderness, the habitat of the mountain lion became smaller. Hence the habitat can only contain fewer mountain lions.
Invasive species are introduced organisms that alter their environment negatively. They affect the invaded bioregions or habitats and cause ecological, economic, or environmental damage. These invasive species invade and outcompete the endemic species or organism by exploiting the new habitat for its natural resources and eventually takes over the habitat. This results in either the native species becoming endangered or extinct.
When a disease is introduced into a new habitat, it can spread amongst the native species. Since the native species/endemic species are not familiar with the disease or lack little resistance, they can die off. However, this will eventually cause a decline in the species population.
Hunting or Fishing
Overhunting or overfishing of species can cause the species to become endangered as their population depletes. However, with time, they may go extinct. Also, there are other species that feed on them. Once a particular species is overhunted or overfished, the other species that prey on them may starve to death.
Loss of genetic variation
Genetic variation is the diversity seen within a species. This however allows the species to adapt to environmental changes. Actually, the greater the population of a species the greater its genetic variation.
However, groups of species that tend to inbreed normally have little genetic variation. Inbreeding is simply reproduction with close family members. However, diseases are much more common among a group of species that inbreed because no new genetic information is introduced. Hence they do not have the genetic variation to develop resistance to diseases. Due to this, fewer offsprings make it to maturity.
However, loss of genetic variation can occur naturally. For instance, cheetahs (threatened species endemic to Africa and Asia) have very little genetic variation. It is said that during the last ice age, they went through a long period of inbreeding so there are very few genetic differences between them. Hence, lesser cheetahs survive to maturity and they cannot adapt quickly to changes in the environments like other animals.
Also, some human activities like overhunting and overfishing can lead to a loss of genetic variation. This is because once the population of the species reduces, there are fewer breeding pairs. However, Genetic variation shrinks with fewer breeding pairs. Breeding pairs are two mature members of the species that can produce healthy offsprings and are not closely related.
For plant species, monoculture (an agricultural method of growing a single crop) also reduces genetic variation. Modern agriculturists depend on monocultures and some crops are cultivated, sold, and consumed from single species. For example, Almost all potatoes that are cultivated and sold are from the Russet Burbank species.
The fact is the genetic variation of wild potatoes actually allows them to adapt well to climate change and disease. Whereas for the Russet Burbanks potatoes species, farmers must use pesticides and fertilizers to ensure healthy crops. This is because the plant has almost no genetic variation. This is why plant breeders go back to the wild often to collect genes that will help cultivated plants adapt to climate change and also to resist drought and pests. However, as climate change threatens wild varieties, with time, domesticated plants may lose a crucial source of traits that will help them overcome new threats.
Pollution is very harmful to the species and habitat. Thus causing the species population to reduce. Pollution can be in various forms. It could be Air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution, land pollution, or the use of pesticides and chemicals.
Depletion of natural resources
Once the natural resources in the ecosystem are overexploited and depleted, there are no longer enough resources to sustain the native species in the habitat. Hence resulting in them dying off.
The best-known worldwide conservation status listing is the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, the conservation status of a species points out if the species still exists and the likelihood that the species will go extinct. So many factors are considered when assessing the status of a species. Factors like the overall increase or decrease in the population of the species over time, statistics of the number remaining, breeding success rates among the species, and known threats. Several systems of conservation status are in use at international, national, multi-country, and local levels. Its also used for consumer use.
IUCN Red list
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species is also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book. It was founded in 1964 and has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the world’s conservation status of fungi, plants, and animal species.
The IUCN Red List serves as an important indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. It is the most authoritative guide to the status of biodiversity. However, it is not just a list of species with their status, as it is a powerful tool to inform and initiate action for the conservation of biodiversity.
Also, it serves to initiate policy change needed to protect the natural resources we need to survive. The IUCN Red List gives information about a range, population size, habitat and ecology, the use/trade, threats, and conservation actions that will aid initiate necessary conservation decisions.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to assess the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. Several Countries or Organizations produce series of Regional Red lists that evaluate the risk of species extinction within a political management unit. For instance, the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation is used within the Russian Federation and is also accepted in parts of Africa.
The IUCN’s main aim is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policymakers and also help the international community to try to reduce species extinction. However, according to IUCN, the formally stated goals of the IUCN Red List are to:
- Provide scientifically-based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level.
- Draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity.
- Influence national and international policy and decision-making.
- Provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.
Collectively, assessment from major species assessors, organizations, and groups account for nearly half the species on the Red List. These organizations and groups include:
- BirdLife International, the Institute of Zoology (the research division of the Zoological Society of London).
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
- Many Specialist Groups within the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).
The IUCN’s goal is to have the category of every species re-evaluated at least every five or ten years if possible. However, this is done in a peer-reviewed manner through IUCN Species Survival Commission Specialist Groups, which are Red List Authorities responsible for a species, group of species, or specific geographic area, or an entire class (Aves) in the case of BirdLife International.
However, species are classified by the IUCN Red List into 9 groups.
- Extinct (EX): a species is declared extinct when it’s beyond reasonable doubt that the last remaining individual of that species has died.
- Extinct in the wild (EW): a species is declared Extinct in the Wild when it survives only in captivity, cultivation, and/or outside its native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys. A species may be listed so after years of surveys have failed to record an individual in its native or expected habitat.
- Critically Endangered (CR): when the species is in a particular and extremely critical state.
- Endangered (EN): when the species is at a very high risk of extinction in the wild and meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered (there’s further explanation on the A-E criteria as you read on). However, governments and international organizations can work to protect it.
- Vulnerable (VU): when the species meets one of the 5 red list criteria and is considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.
- Near threatened (NT): when the species is close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.
- Least concern (LC): when the species is unlikely to become extinct in the near future.
- Data deficient (DD)
- Not evaluated (NE)
However, in the IUCN Red List, “threatened” covers the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable. Species that are not threatened by extinction are placed within the two categories: least concern and near-threatened. While species that are most threatened are placed within the next three categories, known as the threatened categories: vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered. Then species that are extinct in some form are placed within the two categories: extinct in the wild and extinct.
Classifying a species as endangered has to do with its range, habitat, and its actual population. Therefore, a species can be of least concern in one area and then endangered in another area. For example, the gray whale, has a good population in the eastern Pacific Ocean, along the coast of North and South America. Whereas, the population in the western Pacific, is critically endangered.
The number of species that have been assessed for the Red List has been increasing over the years. About 28,338 of 105,000 species surveyed, as of 2019, are considered at risk of extinction because of human activity. Most especially human activities like land development, overfishing, and hunting.
According to the global figures for the 2020-3 IUCN Red list of threatened species, a total of 128,918 species were assessed and a total of 35,765 species are threatened. 902 species are extinct and 80 species are extinct in the wild. 7,762 species are critically endangered and 13,285 species are endangered. 14,718 species are vulnerable and 180 species are at lower risk/conservation dependent. 66,469 species of least concern and 17,878 species are Data Deficient.
Critically Endangered Species
An IUCN Red List Critically Endangered(CR) Species are those species that have been categorized by the IUCN as facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. As of 2021, about 6,811 species of 120,372 species currently tracked by the IUCN are considered to be critically endangered. Also, species that are possibly extinct are still listed as critically endangered because the INCN does not consider a species extinct until extensive targeted surveys have been conducted.
However, for a species to be defined as critically endangered (CR), the species must have met any of the listed criteria (A-E):
A. Population Size reduction
- The rate of the population reduction is measured either over a 10-year span or across 3 different generations within that species.
- The cause for this population decline must also be known.
- However, if the reasons for population reduction no longer occur and can be reversed, the population size needs to have been reduced by at least 90%.
- If not, then the population size needs to have been reduced by at least 80%.
B. Reduction across a geographic range
- This reduction must occur over less than 100 square kilometers or the area of occupancy is less than 10 square kilometers.
- A severe habitat fragmentation or existing at just one location.
- A decline in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, area/extent/quality of habitat, number of locations/subpopulations, or amount of Mature Individuals (MI).
- Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of locations/subpopulations, or amount of Mature individual.
C. Population Decline
The population must decline to less than 250 Mature Individuals and either:
- A decline of 25% of the population over 3 Generations (3G) or 10 Years (10Y).
- Extreme fluctuations, or over 90% of Mature Individuals in a single subpopulation, or no more than 50 Mature Individuals in any one subpopulation.
D. Population Size Reduction
- The population size must be reduced to numbers of less than 50 Matured Individuals.
E. Probability of Extinction
- There must be at least a 50% probability of going extinct in the wild within over 3 Generations/10 Years.
Threatened Species are those species that are vulnerable in the near future to endangerment. These threatened animals or plants are sometimes characterized by a mathematical measure of biomass related to the population growth rate. Hence, this quantitative metric is one method of evaluating the degree of endangerment of the species.
However, the IUCN treats threatened species as a group of 3 categories depending on the degree to which they are threatened. These 3 categories are:
- Critically endangered species
- Endangered species
- Vulnerable species
Although, threatened and vulnerable may be used interchangeably when discussing IUCN categories. Actually, the term threatened is generally used to refer to the 3 categories (critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable). Whereas vulnerable is used to refer to the least-at-risk of those 3 categories. However, they may be used interchangeably in most contexts, as all vulnerable species are threatened species and the more at-risk categories of threatened species (i.e endangered and critically endangered) can also qualify as vulnerable species. In summary, all threatened species can also be considered vulnerable.
Furthermore, the less-than-threatened species are under these categories:
- Near threatened
- Least concern
- Conservation dependent.
However, species that have not been evaluated or do not have sufficient data are not considered threatened and fall under these categories respectively:
- Not evaluated (NE)
- Data Deficient
In the European Union (EU), the Birds and Habitats Directives are the legal instruments used to evaluate the conservation status within the European Union of species and habitats. However, the NatureServe conservation status focuses on the United States, Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean.
Also, the NatureServe conservation status has been developed by scientists from NatureServe, The Nature Conservancy, and a network of natural heritage programs and data centers. Hence it is progressively integrated with the IUCN Red List system and its categories for species include:
- Presumed extinct (GX)
- Possibly extinct (GH)
- Critically imperiled (G1)
- Imperiled (G2)
- Vulnerable (G3)
- Apparently secure (G4)
- Secure (G5)
The fact is the system allows ambiguous or uncertain ranks including inexact numeric ranks (e.g. G2?), and range ranks (e.g. G2G3) for when the exact rank is uncertain. However, NatureServe adds a qualifier for cultivated only or captive (C), which happens to have a similar meaning to the Extinct in the wild (EW) status of the IUCN Red List.
In several Nations, some systems for conservation status have been introduced similar to the IUCN Red List.
For instance, in Australia, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) describes lists of threatened species, ecological communities, and threatening processes. The categories resemble that of the 1994 IUCN Red List Categories & Criteria (version 2.3).
However, before the EPBC Act, a simpler classification system was used by the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. Hence, some state and territory governments also have their own systems for conservation status.
- In Belgium, an online set of more than 150 nature indicators in Dutch is published by the Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forest.
- The United States of America has the Endangered Species List that was created from the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
- Canada has the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) evaluates and designates which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada. However, it is then up to the government Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to legally protect species assessed by COSEWIC.
- In China, there is the China red data book, and the State, provinces, and some counties have determined their main protected wildlife species.
- Germany has the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation that publishes “red lists of endangered species”.
- India has and uses the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, Amended 2003, and the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- In Russia, the Red Book of the Russian Federation came out in 2001, containing categories that define preservation status for different species. In the Red Book, there are a total of 231 taxa with 8 taxa of amphibians, 21 taxa of reptiles, 128 taxa of birds, and 74 taxa of mammals. Also, there are more than 30 regional red books. For instance, the red book of the Altaic region came out in 1994.
- South Africa has The South African National Biodiversity Institute, which was established under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004, is however responsible for drawing up lists of affected species and monitoring compliance with CITES decisions.
Some consumer guides for seafood divide fish and other sea creatures into 3 categories, comparable in a certain respect to conservation status categories:
- Red (“avoid” or “say no”)
- Yellow or orange (“think twice”, “good alternatives” or “some concerns”)
- Green (“best seafood choices”)
However, these categories do not simply reflect the endangerment of individual species, but also consider the environmental impacts of how and where they are fished, like through bycatch or ocean bottom trawlers. Usually, groups of species are assessed rather than individual species, For example, prawns, squid, etc. Also, The Marine Conservation Society has five levels of ratings for seafood species displayed on their FishOnline website.
Endangered Species List
Least concern species
- Arctic Fox Vulpes (lagopus)
- Arctic Wolf Canis ( lupus arctos)
- Bowhead Whale (Balaena mysticetus)
- Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
- Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates)
- Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus)
- Macaw (Ara ararauna)
- Pronghorn (Antilocarpa americana)
- Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)
- Swift Fox (Vulpes velox)
- Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus sp.)
Near threatened species
- Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga)
- Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)
- Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)
- Jaguar (Panthera onca)
- Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus)
- Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
- Plains Bison (Bison bison bison)
- White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)
- Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)
- African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
- Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus)
- Black Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus)
- Dugong (Dugong dugon)
- Forest Elephant
- Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
- Giant Tortoise
- Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
- Greater One-Horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis)
- Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
- Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
- Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
- Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)
- Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
- Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
- Savanna Elephant (Loxodonta africana africana)
- Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)
- Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome)
- African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)
- Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)
- Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)
- Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
- Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus Thynnus)
- Bonobo (Pan paniscus)
- Bornean Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis)
- Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
- Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
- Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
- Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica)
- Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
- Hector’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori)
- Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
- Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)
- Indus River Dolphin (Platanista minor)
- Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)
- Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
- North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
- Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)
- Sea Lions (Zalophus wollebaeki)
- Sea Turtle (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae families)
- Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
- Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus)
- Tiger (Panthera tigris)
- Whale (Balaenoptera, Balaena, Eschrichtius, and Eubalaen
- Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
Critically Endangered species
- Angel shark (Squatina squatina)
- Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis)
- Akarnanika Greek bush-cricket (Parnassiana nigromarginata)
- Australian longnose skate (Dipturus confusus)
- Banded cotinga
- Bala tube-nosed bat (Murina balaensis)
- Bulmer’s fruit bat (Aproteles bulmerae)
- Bird’s Head long-beaked echidna
- Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana)
- Brazilian guitarfish (Rhinobatos horkelii)
- Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)
- Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
- Bolland’s blue (Polyommatus bollandi)
- Blue-eyed ground dove
- Cebu flowerpecker
- Chinese pangolin
- Chinese swamp cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis)
- Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli)
- Common skate (Dipturus batis)
- Cotrell’s daisy copper (Chrysoritis cotrelli)
- Cozumel raccoon
- Common sawfish (Pristis pristis)
- Crow honeyeater
- Daggernose shark (Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus)
- David’s tiger (Parantica davidi)
- European mink
- Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)
- Fijian monkey-faced bat (Mirimiri acrodonta)
- Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus)
- Grenada dove
- Giant Guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis)
- Giona Greek bush-cricket (Parnassiana gionica)
- Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
- Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
- Irrawaddy river shark (Glyphis siamensis)
- Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus)
- Jayapuran long-beaked echidna
- Kolar leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros hypophyllus)
- Lepidochrysops lotana
- Lamotte’s roundleaf bat (Hipposideros lamottei)
- Longcomb sawfish (Pristis zijsron)
- Loja water frog (Telmatobius cirrhacelis)
- Macedonian grayling (Pseudochazara cingovskii)
- Maltese skate (Leucoraja melitensis)
- Menalon Greek bush-cricket (Parnassiana menalon)
- Marion’s plume moth (Agdistis marionae)
- Mindoro bleeding-heart
- Negros fruit dove
- Natal shyshark (Haploblepharus kistnasamyi)
- Natterer’s Longwing (Heliconius nattereri)
- Northern river shark (Glyphis garricki)
- Oceanic white tipped shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)
- Orangutan (Pongo abelii, Pongo pygmaeus)
- Prairie sphinx moth (Euproserpinus wiesti)
- Panaitoliko Greek bush-cricket (Parnassiana panaetolikon)
- Parnassos Greek bush-cricket (Parnassiana parnassica)
- Philippine naked-backed fruit bat (Dobsonia chapmani)
- Red wolf
- Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)
- Sangihe shrike thrush
- Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini)
- Sawback angel shark (Squatina aculeata)
- Silvery pigeon
- Smooth back angel shark (Squatina oculata)
- Striped smooth-hound (Mustelus fasciatus)
- Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata)
- Seychelles sheath-tailed bat (Coleura seychellensis)
- Sri Lankan rose (Atrophaneura jophon)
- Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus)
- Sinai Baton Blue butterfly (Pseudophilotes sinaicus)
- Sunda pangolin
- Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii)
- Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
- Sunda Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)
- Sibree’s dwarf lemur
- Gray-headed lemur
- Blue-eyed black lemur
- Mongoose lemur
- Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur
- Golden bamboo lemur
- Andohahela sportive lemur
- Manombo sportive lemur
- Sahamalaza sportive lemur
- Northern sportive lemur
- Hawks’ sportive lemur
- Gerp’s mouse lemur
- Nosy Be mouse lemur
- Marohita mouse lemur
- Greater bamboo lemur
- Silky sifaka
- Diademed sifaka
- Perrier’s sifaka
- Golden-crowned sifaka
- Red ruffed lemur
- Black-and-white ruffed lemur
- Rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)
- Franklin’s bumblebee (Bombus franklin)
- Suckley cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus suckleyi)
- Variable cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus variabilis)
- Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus)
- Tojologue water frog (Telmatobius timens)
- Thongaree’s disc-nosed bat (Eudiscoderma thongareeae)
- Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)
- Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
- White-eyed river martin
- Yangtze Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis)
- Duck-billed buntingi (Adrianichthys kruyti)
- Killarney shad (Alosa killarnensis)
- European eel (Anguilla anguilla)
- Spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus)
- Abrau sprat (Clupeonella abrau)
- Roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris)
- Pygmy sculpin (Cottus paulus)
- Cottus rondeleti
- Southern Kneria ‘South Africa’ (Kneria sp.)
- Blind cave brotula (Lucifuga simile)
- Ellinopygósteos (Pungitius hellenicus)
- Bocaccio rockfish (Sebastes paucispinus)
- Alabama cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni)
- River pipefish (Syngnathus watermeyeri)
- Chinese puffer (Takifugu chinensis)
- Popta’s buntingi (Xenopoecilus poptae)
- Eightgill hagfish (Eptatretus octatrema)
- Greek lamprey (Eudontomyzon hellenicus)
- Chapala lamprey (Lampetra spadicea)
- West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)
- Yellow-breasted bunting
- Kinglet calyptura
- Réunion cuckooshrike
- Rück’s blue flycatcher
- Táchira antpitta
- Urrao antpitta
- Archer’s lark
- Gurney’s pitta
- Bahama oriole
- São Tomé fiscal
- Semper’s Warbler
- Chestnut-capped Piha
- Stresemann’s bristlefront
- Socorro mockingbird
- Isabela oriole
- Alagoas tyrannulet
- Iquitos gnatcatcher
- Straw-headed bulbul
- Niceforo’s wren
- Cozumel thrasher
- Santa Marta wren
- Tooth-billed pigeon
- Negros bleeding-heart
- Sulu bleeding-heart
- Rapa fruit dove
- Baishan fir (Abies beshanzuensis)
- Sicilian fir (Abies nebrodensis)
- Algerian fir (Abies numidica)
- Yuanbaoshan fir (Abies yuanbaoshanensis)
- Mount Panié kauri (Agathis montana)
- Parana pine (Araucaria angustifolia)
- Koyama’s spruce (Picea koyamae)
- Veitch’s spruce (Picea neoveitchii)
- Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana)
- Blue mountain yacca (Podocarpus urbanii)
- Florida yew (Taxus floridana)
- Florida nutmeg tree (Torreya taxifolia)
- Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis)
- Mulanje cedar (Widdringtonia whytei)
- Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis)
- Aghrian Bellflower (Campanula aghrica)
- Kanchaveli’s Bellflower (Campanula kantschavelii)
- Lazian campanula (Campanula lazica)
- Serail Bellflower (Campanula seraglio)
- Colchis water-chestnut (Trapa colchica)
- Sharp-stegium tansy (Tanacetum oxystegium)
- Makashvilis’s goat’s beard (Tragopogon makaschwilii)
- Ochiauri’s goat’s beard (Tragopogon otschiaurii)
Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted in 1973 to protect endangered animals and threatened species against extinction. It is a federal law that protects endangered species, threatened species, and critical habitats (areas crucial to the survival of endangered or threatened species). The ESA’s main purpose is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
The good news is, the world came together and signed a treaty, which is an international agreement concluded between States and governed by international law called CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). CITES is an international treaty to prevent species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade. It is a global agreement between governments to follow rules to regulate, monitor, and ban international trade in species under threat. Also, it is an important tool in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
The text of the Convention was agreed upon on March 3rd, 1973 at a meeting of 80 countries’ representatives in Washington D.C., and CITES was implemented 2 years later, on July 1st, 1975. Under this treaty, these countries work hand in hand to regulate the international trade of plant and animal species to ensure that this trade is not detrimental to the survival of the wild populations. Currently, about 182 countries and the European Union implement CITES, which accords varying degrees of protection to over 35,000 species of animals and plants.
However, CITES is not a self-executing treaty. The implementation of CITES obligations requires that policy, powers, rights, duties, and procedures be specified in National legislation. So, an effective CITES implementation is impossible without an adequate legal basis at national or country levels. In regard to that, the Four minimum Requirements for CITES implementing legislation are stated in Resolution Conf, 8.v (Rev. CoP15):
- Prohibit trade of specimens in violation of the Convention
- Penalize such actions (prison, financial penalties, etc)
- Allow for the confiscation of specimens illegally traded or possessed.
- Designate at least one Management Authority and one Scientific Authority
Additionally, this legislation is aided by a regularly updated Endangered species list. The ESA, however, has lists of protected plant and animal species both nationally and globally. When species are given ESA protection, they are said to be “listed” species. Also, there are many additional species that are evaluated for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act. Such species are called “candidate” species.
However, the endangered species list is managed on the federal level under the Endangered Species Act. There are 3 different departments of the federal government that administer the ESA:
- Department of Interior (Endangered animals generally)
- The Department of Commerce (Marine mammals)
- Department of Agriculture (Plants)
For instance, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Department of Commerce is responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife resources, and their habitats, including Endangered species.
Also, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) allows authorities to determine whether a given species qualify for endangered or threatened status. The law bans unauthorized harvest, trade, custody, and transportation of endangered animals, plants, and other at-risk organisms. Also, it allows the application of civil and criminal penalties upon those who violate this law.
Foreign wildlife protected by the ESA receives huge benefits. The law has helped in the regulation of their lives, prohibition, or harvested trade across US borders. It has also put a limitation on commercial activity that would affect their habitat and has increased funding for their conservation. Without the ESA, over 2,000 plant and animal species could go into extinction.
Moreso, the US is the world’s second-largest consumer market for wildlife and this law has helped ensure that US citizens do not contribute to the decline of foreign endangered species. However, due to the Endangered species Act’s proven success, it is used in many countries as a model to develop similar conservation legislation.
How does a Species get listed in the ESA?
Before a species gets listed, it is investigated thoroughly. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service, for instance, will investigate the health of the species. They will definitely look at all the scientific data collected by local, state, and national scientists.
Also, for a species to be listed as a candidate, the species has to qualify for protected status under the Endangered Species Act. Moreso for a species to be listed or not listed as endangered or threatened, it depends on a number of factors, plus the urgency and whether adequate protections exist through other means.
However, when deciding if a species should be added to the Endangered Species List, the following criteria are evaluated:
- Is the species highly threatened by predation or disease?
- Do the current regulations or legislation inadequately protect the species?
- Are there other human-influenced factors threatening the long-term survival of the species?
- Has a large percentage of the species’ vital habitat been destroyed or degraded?
- Has the species been over-consumed for commercial, scientific, recreational, or educational uses?
Conclusively, a species can be listed under the Endangered Species Act, if the answer to one or more of the above questions is YES.
Why do we protect Endangered species/threatened species?
The ESA is very crucial as it saves our native fish, plants, and other wildlife from extinction. If these species go extinct they are gone forever and losing just a single species has a negative impact on the ecosystem. This is because their absence will be felt throughout the food chain.
The benefits of protecting and preserving these threatened and endangered species are invaluable. Preserving them helps to provide cures to deadly diseases, helps maintain a natural ecosystem, and improves the overall quality of life.
How can you help conserve Endangered animals and species?
Conservation methods are needed to provide protection and recovery of species facing extinction. Although it will take years before endangered species population return to their habitat and increase their biodiversity rate, still every little effort of conservation counts. Here are a few conservation methods that will lessen human imposed threats to these endangered animals and species:
Educate yourself and others:
This is one of the most essential conservation methods because by learning about wildlife, you will be able to understand the importance of these endangered species better and the resources needed for their survival.
This involves either learning the wildlife in your local neighborhood or across different nations.
Also, you can then educate friends, family, and neighbors on information regarding various local and global species. This includes activities like volunteering, visiting a national wildlife refuge or park, observing and identifying plants and animals native to your location.
Reuse, recycle, and purchase sustainable products:
Recycling helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Also, it is advisable to purchase and prefer sustainable products.
Sustainable products are those products that allow for repetitive use and last longer. They are more easily recycled and renewed (e.g hemp-based paper vs. wood pulp), plus they require fewer resources to create (e.g water required to produce an equivalent nutritional value of plant vs. animal-based foods).
These kinds of products reduce the amount of trash and recycling waste that ends up in our environment.
Encourage wildlife-friendly practices in your neighborhood:
This includes cleaning the objects that are used by communities of animals, e.g birdbaths and hummingbird feeders in order to prevent disease transmission.
Also, ensure that garbage cans are closed so that they do not attract animals.
Do not leave food waste outside and maintain the speed limit of your neighborhood to avoid accidentally killing any animals. Doing this may help limit the reduction of endemic species population size within that particular area.
Monitor your chemical usage:
Try to avoid using harsh chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. They are poisonous to the native animals and can degrade the soil within their surrounding environment, causing harmful algae blooms and a host of other unintended consequences.
Do Not Engage in Illegal Wildlife Captivity:
Avoid illegal wildlife captivity totally as poaching decreases the wildlife population and disrupts the balance of a certain habitat.
Species that are endemic to a habitat maintain the balance in that environment as they provide it with natural resources, remove waste, and control the population of their prey species. So, you may be depriving the habitat of the resources needed to sustain its other native animal and plant species by poaching off a particular species.
Moreso, poached animals have also been known to introduce and spread disease amongst human populations through wildlife trade. Common examples today are SARS, Ebola, COVID-19, etc.
Develop Protective and Relief Projects for Threatened Species:
The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1973 to protect animals and plants who were facing possible extinction after an already visible decline of several species in the 1900s.
However, this is intended to allow species to recover to the extent that they no longer need protection. So, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created the relief program “Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Fund” to send funds to continents such as Africa, Asia, South America, and Oceania to create projects that provide assistance with the recovery of Critically Endangered species and endangered animals from the risk of extinction.