The Endangered List
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists species in the following categories -
- Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild)
- Endangered (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild)
- Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild)
- Near Threatened (close to qualifying for Vulnerable)
- Least Concern (species not qualifying for the other categories, including widespread and abundant species)
Putting a species on the endangered list offers it legal protection and ensures that adequate measures are taken to save its habitat. Researchers study why a species is endangered and what can be done to aid its recovery, and, in some cases, the steps taken have helped a species climb back from near-extinction. The Brazilian Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), for instance, has increased in numbers due to the efforts of the Brazilian government, people and NGOs, and is no longer Critically Endangered, though still on the Endangered list.
A good many species, however, never make it to the Endangered lists and disappear 'quietly into the night'. There are several reasons for this.
- They may be still unknown to researchers.
They may not be deemed sufficiently important. Humans have the unfortunate tendency to mete out who is worth saving and who is not. For instance, a polar bear may be considered worth saving, but a spider would attract comparatively less attention.
- Economic considerations take precedence over the ecological ones, and politicians lobby to keep the species off the endangered list.
A negative point about the Endangered list, that ought to be mentioned, is that being featured on it often, far from protecting the species, draws the attention of poachers, hunters and collectors. They want to 'bag' the trophy before it disappears.
The following might help to save the most endangered rainforest species -
Save their habitats.
- Offer jobs and economic incentives to the indigenous people to help save the habitats.
- Guard against poachers.
- Ban trophy hunting and the import/export of animal furs and other items.
- Institute breeding programs in captivity with the aim of releasing the animals in the wild eventually.
- Follow a green lifestyle that has a minimum impact on the environment.
- Stop patronizing companies and organizations that carry out rainforest destruction.
- Write to your government representatives in support of conservation efforts.