What is a critically endangered species?

Several subspecies of tigers are critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss.

A critically endangered species is one that still exists in the wild but is listed as most at risk of extinction. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is the organization that assesses risk and decides which animals are considered critically endangered. One of the key factors in defining a species as critically endangered is how quickly it is declining. If a species’ population has declined by 80 percent or more in three generations, the IUCN will likely add it to the critically endangered species list. This may also be the case if there is a very strong probability that the population of the species will decline by 80% or more in three generations.

To understand what it means for a species to be critically endangered, it is important to understand the spectrum of danger used by the IUCN. The spectrum, also known as the IUCN Red List, includes seven categories. The top category, called “Least Concern”, is reserved for species that are at very little risk of extinction. It is followed by a category called “Near Threatened”, which is used to describe species that are not currently under threat of extinction, but may be in the near future.

The next three points on the IUCN spectrum are considered under the umbrella of “endangered” species, but the threat varies in its severity. Points in this section of the spectrum include “Vulnerable Species”, “Threatened Species” and “Critically Endangered Species”. One of the main problems with these types of endangered animals is that, on the danger spectrum, they are close to extinct categories. The two extinct categories, which are on the opposite end of the spectrum from “Near Threatened” and “Least Concern” are “Extinct in the Wild” and “Extinct”.

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Critically endangered species on the IUCN list include both plants and animals. There are, for example, several types of lilies that are considered critically endangered. Animals that are on the critically endangered species list include the Togo slippery frog, Anderson’s salamander, Gulf Coast jaguarundi, Przewalski’s horse, and the Hawaiian monk seal, to name just a few. There are several organizations that work to make the threat of danger less serious for certain groups of plants and animals.

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