Many different organisations compile a list of the World’s Most Endangered Species and ‘Critically Endangered’ is the highest risk category assigned to those species that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
According to the IUCN’s Red List there are currently 2129 animals and 1821 plants with this assessment…compared with 1998 levels of 854 and 909, respectively.
As the Red List does not consider a species extinct until extensive, targeted surveys have been conducted, species which are possibly extinct are still listed as ‘Critically Endangered’.
The threat-risk categories are as follows:
Least Concern – Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened.
Near Threatened – Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.
Vulnerable – Facing a risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered – Facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Critically Endangered – Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Extinct in the wild – Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population.
Extinct – No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
~The Top Ten in this video are based not only on the actual number of individual members of each species or subspecies that exist in the wild but also the threats they face, their potential breeding population and their rate of extinction.
The famous symbols of endangered species, such as the Giant panda and the polar bear have not been included in the Top Ten of those that are considered critically endangered.
The Giant panda is categorised as ‘endangered’. The Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves protecting around 61% of the country’s panda population and while hunting remains an ever-present threat, poaching the animals for their fur has declined due to strict laws and greater public awareness of the panda’s protected status.
There are around 1,600 Giant pandas in the wild.
The polar bear’s status is listed as ‘vulnerable’ rather than endangered.
The loss of sea ice habitat from climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of polar bears. Other key threats include polar bear-human conflicts, overharvesting, and industrial impacts.
There are around 20,000 – 25,000 polar bears in the wild.