1.  The most recognized organization for determining the conservation status of a species is the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) founded in 1948.  The world’s largest conservation organization, it it is serviced by over 11000 volunteer scientists and other experts as well as over 1200 government and non-government members.
2.  IUCN Conservation Classifications:

Extinct

  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity or a naturalized population outside of its original range

Threatened

  • Critically Endangered (CR) – at extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the immediate future in the wild
  • Endangered (EN) – at a very high risk of becoming extinct in the near future in the wild
  • Vulnerable (VU) – at a high risk of endangerment in the wild

Lower Risk

  • Near Threatened (NT) – in the near future may become endangered
  • Least Concern (LC) – a species which has no immediate threat to its survival; it is a widespread, abundant species
3.  A species is declared extinct after many years of not being spotted.  It takes a very long time to declare a species extinct meaning we are probably unaware of a number of species already gone.
Park Rangers Argentina, Jorge Cieslik, CC BY-SA, via Wiki Commons

Park Rangers (guardaparques, in Spanish) patrolling in the Iguazú National Park in Argentina

4.  Rangers are frontline workers in the conservation of many endangered species.
5.  Extinction is a natural process.  The “background rate” of extinction is about a loss of 1 to 5 species per year.  Present day we are losing 100 to 1000 times the background rate with dozens of species going extinct per day.
6.  It is estimated that 30% to 50% of all species today are heading towards extinction by mid-century.
7.  Of the species now threatened, about 99% have reached this status due to human activity including human-caused habitat loss, introduced species and human-influenced global warming.
8.  The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects registered endangered species in the following way:  the species are removed from the “take” list meaning it is unlawful for any person to shoot, harm, capture, trap or attempt any of these actions.
9.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) focuses on saving certain species – pandas, whales, rhinos, marine turtles, primates, polar bears, big cats – whose conservation will sustain other species as well.
10. Freshwater ecosystems are home to over 100,000 known species of both plants and animals.  This ecosystem is now one of these most endangered habitats in the world due to human settlement, pollution and climate change.

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