Hypnotizing isn’t he? Meet the Siau Island tarsier, the newest animal species to be designated as critically endangered on International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species. Inhabiting a small Indonesian island, this saucer-eyed primate has to keep its eyes on two big threats – an active volcano that could wipe our its habitat at any moment and islanders that have a keen taste for tarsiers (locals regularly serve “tola-tola” as a popular snack). The Siau Island tarsier’s critically endangered status sounds an alarm…calling attention to the possibility to its imminent demise.
The world’s most comprehensive inventory of plant and animal conservation status, the Red List classifies species into seven categories, ranging from “least concern” to “extinct.” As you can imagine there is a plethora of scientific data that goes into carefully defining these categories – we’re talking endless pages of graphs, charts and confusing jargon. Here’s my simple, layman’s language interpretation* of IUCN’s species categories.
*my status descriptions are in no way endorsed or approved by the smart volunteer force at IUCN. IUCN’s categories and criteria specs can be read in detail here.
LEAST CONCERN (LC) | Species in this category are widespread and abundant. Let’s continue to take good care of these guys, everyone!
NEAR THREATENED (NT) | Watch out! Plant and animals included in this category are close to qualifying for a threatened category in the near future.
VULNERABLE (VU) | An observed or suspected population reduction means this species needs extreme care and support to protect it from becoming endangered. Being vulnerable isn’t a good feeling, is it?
ENDANGERED (EN) | Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. It is time to muster up compassion and action RIGHT NOW to save these species!
CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR) | A species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.
EXTINCT IN THE WILD (EW) | Sadly, these species can only be found in captivity or naturalized populations outside their natural range.
EXTINCT (EX) | No longer in existence. Gone. Forever.