Amazing, yet threatened: celebrating Endangered Species Day

Today is Endangered Species Day, when people across the USA celebrate national conservation efforts to protect the country’s imperilled species and their habitats. 

California condor  (Gymnogyps californianus) Photo: © Juan Vargas V.

California condor  (Gymnogyps californianus) Thanks to a captive breeding and reintroduction programme using the last remaining 22 birds in the wild captured by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the skies of Southern California and northern Mexico are now home to some 200 of what Native Americans call the “thunderbird” - America's largest flying bird. The reintroduced birds remain susceptible to human induced threats such as lead-poisoning and garbage such as bottle caps that choke the birds.

IUCN Red List status: Critically Endangered
Endangered Species Act status: Endangered

IUCN’s SOS - Save Our Species has supported the conservation of California Condors from January 2012- December 2013

The day marks the enactment of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – a Federal US Law approved in 1973, and designed to highlight and conserve imperilled species.

The ESA currently lists 2,268 species, and is in part informed and underpinned by the science of the The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Established in 1963, the IUCN Red List is a comprehensive database of expert knowledge about the global conservation status of species and their extinction pressures, which currently includes global assessments of over 86,000 species. It is freely available for public consultation and use by all sectors of society, including any government worldwide to assist in decisions about environmental impacts.

While there are a number of differences between ESA and the IUCN Red List – including their scope and categorisation of species extinction risk – together, they work to help protect some of our most precious plants and animals.

This photo gallery presents just some of the species listed by both the ESA and the IUCN Red List. Many of the stories are examples of real conservation successes, reminding us that conservation works – and works best through coordinated, informed action on the ground.

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