The International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN is a membership-based union of government and civil society organizations with the purpose of simultaneously fostering 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, drawing on the experience, resources and reach of its 1,300 member organizations as well as the input of some 10,000 volunteer experts from a range of disciplines who assess on an on going basis 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 and 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 aspects such as wildlife health and species reintroduction.
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™
The Red List is the most comprehensive and objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species and 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 risks of extinction that is applicable to all species, has become a world standard.
AFRICAN & ASIAN RHINO SPECIALIST GROUPS
The AfRSG and AsSRG meet regularly to promote the development and long-term maintenance of viable wild populations of the African and Asian rhinos respectively. Membership of the two groups comprise official country representatives from the main rhino range states and other specialists. Action Plans for the conservation of African rhinos and Asian rhinos have been produced.
IUCN SPECIES CLASSIFICATION
HOW MANY SPECIES ARE THERE?
At one point the number of species on Earth was estimated at anywhere between 3 million and 100 million. A far more precise estimate was published in 2011. We now believe that there are about 8.7 million species on Earth: 6.5 million on land and 2.2 million in the oceans. The formal naming and classification of species began 253 years ago and since then about 1.25 million species (+/- 1 million on land and about 250,000 in the oceans) have been described. About 700,000 more have probably been described but have yet to reach the central databases. So far 105,732 species have been assessed by the Red List, with some 28,000 of them sadly threatened with extinction. In most cases the decline is due to human overexploitation. The Red List’s target for 2020 is 160,000. As impressive as this achievement is, we are clearly just touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to naming, describing and assessing all the life forms on earth.
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.