2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought.
One of the world’s most charismatic megafauna, the endangered giant panda was saved by conservationists after an almost total wipeout from the African continent.
The world’s rarest bear population is safe from a repeat of the dramatic population collapse that threatened the panda in the 1980s and 1990s.
The plight of the world’s threatened species is now widely recognized. But do the number and type of threatened species, their numbers and extinction rates vary by country?
We compared the proportion of threatened species in the world’s 195 countries and found that many countries have a higher proportion of threatened species than that of other countries. The most threatened countries also generally have a higher number of threatened species – and vice versa.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifies species as threatened when their population is declining (therefore, their quality of life is decreasing), they have declining numbers, and they are likely to go extinct in the foreseeable future. In contrast, the IUCN classification includes species as being of least concern (LC), which are considered to be less endangered than threatened, due to their small numbers.
We developed a map by dividing the Earth into 5,000×5,000 cells to reveal the presence or absence of threatened species in each cell. The map is meant to reflect the global trend that more threatened species are present in developing countries.
We found that the least threatened countries have a lower proportion of threatened species. Only four countries (Canada, the Dominican Republic, New Zealand and Samoa) have a higher proportion of threatened species; and only three countries (Canada, the Dominican Republic and the United States) have a higher number of threatened species.
The largest disparity is seen in the proportion of threatened species in the least developed countries, where the global and regional disparity amounts to an increase from 30.4% (most threatened countries) to 35.7% (least threatened countries) – or more than