Even though efforts have been stepped up to halt the decline of animal species internationally, too many of them remain vulnerable to extinction.
An endangered species is one that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular region. Endangered species may be at risk because of habitat loss, poaching, and/or invasive species. (These are the most devastating invasive species.)
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a Swiss-based international research, analysis, and advocacy organization, recognizes seven categories of risk for animal species. “Critically endangered” is the last step before extinction in the wild and then complete extinction, and thus indicates those species that are in danger of disappearing. (The IUCN’s concerns are global, but in strictly American terms, here’s a look at the most threatened wildlife in every state.)
In deciding which species to identify as critically endangered, the IUCN considers population reduction rate, geographic range, population size, population restrictions, and probability of extinction in the wild. Any of these factors or a combination of them can land a species on the organization’s Red List, also called the Barometer of Life.
A species is classified as critically endangered when its population, measured over a ten-year period or across three generations, has declined at least 90% for reasons that no longer apply and can be compensated for or at least 80% if the reasons are ongoing.
It is similarly classified if its numbers are reduced over an area of 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) or its area of occupancy is estimated to be less than 10 square kilometers (3.9 square miles); if its population has shrunk to fewer than 250 mature individuals, and shows either a decline of 25% over 10 years or three generations or an extreme decline of more than 90% of mature individuals; if there are fewer than 50 mature individuals remaining; or if there is considered to be a 50% probability of it going extinct in the wild over the next 10 years or three generations.
To determine some of the critically endangered species in danger of disappearing, 24/7 Tempo examined and assessed data from the Red List (also called the Barometer of Life) compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and current as of May 9, 2022. Additional information was sourced from National Geographic and the World WildLife Fund.
There are fewer than 10 mature individuals in the wild for three species on the list we compiled. One of those, the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle, which lives in Vietnam and China, is the most vulnerable, with only three individuals remaining.