The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently published the data for their 2021 Red List. As part of the list, the IUCN provides data for the number of threatened species that they have assessed in countries throughout the world.
The IUCN “threatened” class of species includes vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered species. The list of threatened species by country includes the major taxonomic groups including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, molluscs, plants, fungi, chromists and other inverts.
Needless to say this is interesting data to look at.
Since the data on the list only includes species that have been “assessed” by the IUCN, it is therefore not indicative of the overall status of threatened species in a particular country, or in the world. In fact, on the IUCN Red List website the IUCN acknowledges this by stating “since extinction risk has been evaluated for less than 5% of the world’s described species, IUCN cannot provide a precise estimate for how many of the planet’s species are threatened.”
However, the list is still interesting for the fact it does show the challenges a county might have if they want to prevent these “known” threatened species from becoming extinct. The more species that are assessed as threatened, the more time and money a country will have to spend to save them from extinction.
More on the cost of saving a threatened species from extinction in a future post.
The Top 10 Countries
With that in mind, here are the top 10 countries, from a list of over 200 countries, with the most threatened species according to the IUCN 2021 Red List:
1. Madagascar: 3,667
2. Ecuador: 2,601
3. Mexico: 2,207
4. Indonesia: 2,030
5. Malaysia: 1,991
6. Brazil: 1,923
7. United States: 1,851
8. Australia: 1,774
9. Columbia: 1,494
10. Philippines: 1,470
China came in 12th with 1,333 threatened species. India comes in 13th with 1,235 threatened species.
Threatened Plants vs. Threatened Mammals
One interesting statistic to note on the IUCN 2021 Red List is the difference of threatened species by taxonomic group within a country. In general, it seems the number of threatened plants listed in a country is usually larger than the number of threatened species in other taxonomic groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, fungi, etc.).
For example, of the 3,667 threatened species assessed in Madagascar, 2,837 of those species were plants and 136 were mammals. In Australia, 749 of the 1,774 assessed species were plants while 69 were mammals.
However, even though the 2021 Red List shows most countries have more threatened plants listed than other taxonomic groups like mammals, there are a number of exceptions to that as well.
In Qatar for example, the IUCN Red List has no plants listed as threatened in the country but lists four mammal species threatened there. In the Holy See (Vatican City State) the 2021 Red List also has no plants listed as threatened but shows there are two mammals threatened in the Vatican.
The IUCN 2021 Red List Clearly Paints a Picture of the Challenge
Again, the number of species listed in the IUCN 2021 Red List, whether plant or mammal, only reflects the number of species that have been assessed by the IUCN for their conservation status. And since only a fraction of the planet’s species have been assessed by the IUCN, these numbers only provides a glimpse of the overall picture regarding the conservation status of species in countries around the world.
However, with that glimpse, the IUCN 2021 Red List clearly paints a picture of the challenges countries around the world will face if they choose to save their “known” threatened species from extinction. And as the IUCN continues to assess more species on the planet for their conservation status, there is little doubt the challenges for countries to save species from extinction will become even greater.
Here is a link to the complete IUCN 2021 Red List of Threated Species by Country.