Written by Dr. Alistair Dove
You may have seen in the press the recent announcement from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, that whale sharks (along with the enigmatic wing head shark) have been downgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List. I thought it might help to explain exactly what that means, so I’ve done it as a sort of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What’s “the IUCN Red List”?
The Red List is a sort of master-file about the conservation status of different species. As you can see from the screen capture below, the ranking goes from Least Concern (LC) for really common species, all the way down to Extinct (EX), with a couple of other categories for species that haven’t been evaluated (Not Evaluated NE) or that were evaluated but there wasn’t enough scientific data to decide on a status (Data Deficient DD). All of these levels are recoverable, except for Extinct (EX); there ain’t no coming back from gone.