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How do scientists decide if an animal is endangered?
Many different animal species are threatened with extinction. But how do scientists decide which species are more at risk - a frog in America or a shark off the coast of Australia?
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature saw the need for some objective criteria to measure each animal's risk of becoming extinct. Their work led to the creation of the IUCN Red List.
What is the IUCN Red List?
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was introduced in order to quantitatively measure if species are close to extinction. It uses research from thousands of scientists working in the field.
The IUCN uses this research to categorize each species depending on how close to extinction they are.
What different categories does the Red list use?
There are nine categories in total. These are:
- Extinct: no known individuals exist
- Extinct in the Wild: no known animals exist in the wild - they may exist in captivity
- Critically Endangered: the species faces an extreme and immediate risk of extinction
- Endangered: the species faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future
- Vulnerable: the species is threatened extinction in the medium term
- Near Threatened: the species is close to the threatened thresholds or would be threatened without ongoing specific conservation measures
- Least Concern: the species is evaluated with a low risk of extinction
- Data Deficient: no assessment because of insufficient data
- Not evaluated