There are approximately 1,890 species listed on the endangered list by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A species is considered endangered if its numbers have dropped significantly within its living range and is in danger of extinction.
A number of factors come into play when placing a species on the endangered species list. Before any plant or wildlife can be considered for protection, the Federal Government or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must place it on a list of threatened wildlife.
An example of an endangered species is the giant Panda. Through deforestation, the range where they live is shrinking, thus they are being weeded out, so to speak. There are new preserves being built to protect these beautiful animals and their numbers are increasing.
Habitat loss, pollution, illegal hunting and the integration of new species into the same area are the four main reasons to determine if a species is considered endangered. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has compiled a list of endangered species and an over 15,589 species are endangered. This list is known as the Red List. IUCN re-evaluates and updates the list every five years. It is staggering to understand the basic numbers. One in eight birds, four mammals, half of all the freshwater turtles and one in three amphibians are endangered today. More are being included as their habitat changes.
Once a species is listed as endangered, the Federal Government designates its habitat as critical as well. This is designed as the area where the species lives and if that area requires conservation efforts and protection. Any area outside of the area where the species lives that requires conservation and protection is considered as well.
Consideration categories by the IUCN for plants and wildlife are as follows:
1. Least concern – no immediate threat
2. Near Threatened – May be cause for concern in the future
3. Vulnerable – Faces a threat of extinction
4. Endangered – Faces a very high risk of extinction
5. Critically endangered – Faces an immediate threat of extinction
6. Extinct in the Wild – Only live in captivity. There are no animals in the wild
7. Extinct – No living species are alive
There are an additional 68 species under consideration and the list is growing every day. Conservation efforts must continue in order to save these precious plants and wildlife of a world that is very important.