What is Endangered Species?

Endangered Species is a type of organism that is threatened by extinction. The categorization of the endangered species often follows the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, which is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species (IUCN, 2016).

Graphic diagram for the IUCN Red List categories
Graphic diagram for the IUCN Red List categories (Wikimedia, 2006)

Global Perspective

Human actions have precipitated a global extinction crisis to a myriad of species, especially over the past two centuries. Losing species at a 1,000 to 10,000 times of the natural background rate, the planet is now experiencing the worst spate of species die-off since the loss of dinosaurs 65 million years ago (Chivian & Bernstein, 2008). Unlike past mass extinctions caused by events like asteroid strikes or volcanic eruption, the major drivers of modern species loss are the human caused change in land use, overexploitation, invasive species, diseases, and climate change (Sodhi, Brook, & Bradshaw, 2009). These forces act together, have left immeasurable negative footprints on global biodiversity.


Species listed as critically endangered by IUCN red list (the Guardian)
Species listed as critically endangered by IUCN red list (the Guardian, 2013); See the full version on their website



Chivian, E., & Bernstein, A. (Eds.). (2008). Sustaining life: how human health depends on biodiversity. Oxford University Press.

IUCN (2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Retrieved from http://www.iucnredlist.org.

Sodhi, N. S., Brook, B. W., & Bradshaw, C. J. (2009). Causes and consequences of species extinctions. The Princeton Guide to Ecology, pp.514-520. New Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press

The Guardian, (2013). The world’s extinct and endangered species – interactive map. Retrieved from  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2012/sep/03/extinct-and-endangered-species-interactive

Wikimedia, (2006). Graphic diagram for the IUCN Red List categories. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Status_iucn3.1.svg#filehistory