The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership-based union of government and civil society organizations. Its purpose is to foster human progress, economic development, and nature conservation. The IUCN was created in 1948 and has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. It draws on the experience, resources, and reach of its 1,300 member organizations and the input of some 10,000 volunteer experts from various disciplines who continually assess the state of the world’s natural resources.
THE IUCN WORKS
THE IUCN GLOBAL SPECIES
The program—based at the IUCN’s headquarters in Gland, Switzerland—supports the activities of The IUCN Species Survival Commission. It also produces, maintains, and manages The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
IUCN SPECIES SURVIVAL COMMISSION
The SSC is a science-based global network of more than 7,500 volunteer experts who feed data on biodiversity conservation into The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The SSC comprises more than 140 specialist and other groups. Some focus on particular groups of plants and creatures, while others focus on wildlife health and species reintroduction.
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™
The Red List is the most comprehensive and objective global evaluation of the conservation status of plant and animal species. It plays an increasingly prominent role in guiding conservation activities of governments, NGOs, and scientific institutions. The introduction in 1994 of a scientifically rigorous approach to determine the extinction risks for all species has become a world standard.
AFRICAN & ASIAN RHINO SPECIALIST GROUPS
The AfRSG and AsRSG, respectively, meet regularly to promote the development and long-term maintenance of viable wild rhino populations in Africa and Asia. Membership comprises official country representatives from the leading rhino range states and other specialists. Action Plans for conserving African rhinos and Asian rhinos have been produced.
IUCN SPECIES CLASSIFICATION
HOW MANY SPECIES ARE THERE?
The number of species on Earth was once estimated at anywhere between 3 million and 100 million, but a far more precise estimate was published in 2011. We now believe there are about 8.7 million species on Earth: 6.5 million on land and 2.2 million in the oceans.
So far, about 1.25 million species have been described (+/- 1 million on land and about 250,000 in the oceans). An estimated 700,000 additional species have been described but have yet to reach the central databases. So far, more than 142,500 species are included in the Red List. Sadly, over 40,000 of them are threatened with extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 37 percent of sharks and rays, 34 percent of conifers, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 26 percent of mammals, and 13 percent of birds.
The following infographic sets out the Red List’s assessment categories. Click on the icons to find out more.
RHINOS AND THE RED LIST
All five members of the rhino family, together with their subspecies, have been assessed for the Red Data List. Click on the images below to find out more about the conservation status of each of the living rhinos.