What makes a species critically endangered

Red list of threatened species Who comes on which lists


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The "red list" is a fixed term these days. For us, it stands for the endangerment of animals and plants, for endangered and extinct animals. But who compiles the Red List and is there really only one?

Status: December 28, 2017

Like all lemurs, mouse lemurs (Microcebus) live exclusively on Madagascar and are usually the smallest primates with a body weight of less than 100 grams. IUCN has classified 103 of the 107 lemur species still existing on the African island as endangered. 98 percent of all lemur species are therefore considered threatened. 33 species are already on the verge of extinction (as of 2020).

It shakes us up and makes us aware that the biodiversity on our planet is declining more and more: The Red List is intended to help save the diversity of flora and fauna by showing people how urgently they should act. Who would want an "endangered" animal to become a "critically endangered" and finally "extinct animal"? However, there is more than one Red List and that can be confusing.

This list is constantly updated as soon as there is some kind of new data. Most countries also publish their own lists. In Germany, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) in Bonn is responsible for this. In addition, the federal states also have their own lists relating to their own and regional flora and fauna.

Red list of birds in Bavaria

The Bavarian State Office for the Environment (LfU) last published a red list of breeding birds in Bavaria in June 2016. With a frightening result: Almost every second bird species in Bavaria stands on it - either as extinct, threatened with extinction, endangered like the lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), endangered or very rare.

We regard it as "endangered", in Denmark as extinct: the smooth snake

The lists proceed according to the biological system: via vertebrates and non-vertebrates, then via class (e.g. mammals), order (e.g. primates), family (great apes), genus (orangutan). However, since the animal and plant species, their living conditions and living conditions are very different not only from country to country, but also regionally, monitoring in smaller areas is also of great importance.

Different categorizations

The classification of the hazard categories is also not uniform. The IUCN differentiates between ten levels of risk ranging from "extinct" or "extinct in the wild", through "critically endangered", "critically endangered", "endangered" to "regionally extinct" and "not classified". In contrast, the Red List of Bavaria - like that of the federal government - is based on eight categories.

Risk categories in Bavaria

0 extinct or lost
1 critically endangered
2 endangered
3 endangered
G Accepted risk, but status unknown
R extremely rare species and species with geographical restrictions
V Types of warning list
D data deficit

Tough and tedious work

Updating red lists has been tedious work of years, sometimes decades. Many species such as the small lemurs that hop through the jungle at night are difficult to count, and regular monitoring is difficult in some regions. As a result, the figures are often only updated every few years and are then based on data obtained over several years.

Back in Mongolia: Przewalski's horse

Experts from nature conservation authorities, associations and volunteers systematically collect and evaluate data. That means: You count the population and analyze the living conditions of the animals and plants found. The current results are compared with short-term and long-term developments. Because environmental accidents, construction projects, renaturation projects or deforestation of forests can result in fundamental changes for plants and animals and their spread.

The Red Lists make people more aware of the danger to animals and make them more active. An example of this is the hour of the winter or garden birds, when sighted garden birds are counted. Or feeding endangered songbirds in winter. Garden owners, on the other hand, strive to make their garden suitable for hedgehogs or insects. This also includes the use of volunteers on the toad migration, who carry toads over busy roads in order to bring them safely to their spawning waters.

Red lists as decision-making aids

Is under special protection: the great mouse-eared mouse

Red lists do not have any actual legal consequences, but they form the basis for state measures, for example the Bavarian species and biotope protection program. Measures to protect endangered species must also be taken in large-scale construction projects. When the A94 was expanded through the Isental, the needs of the "large mouse-eared bat", a species of bat living there, came into play.