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How to approach IUCN Red List Related Questions in UPSC Prelims

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Categories: Prelims, Published: 3rd May, 2021

In the last few years, it has been seen that UPSC is constantly giving more weightage to ‘Environment Section’. This has happened with the change in format since the year 2011, However various reasons could be cited for this including the inclusion of Indian Forest Services (IFoS) in UPSC Prelims Exam to increasing worldwide environmental concern. The importance of the Environment is evident from the fact that this section constitutes around 25-30 percent of the General Studies, paper 1. Throwing a cursory glance at the previous year papers we will see that questions based on IUCN Red List Of Endangered Species has been asked frequently. In this article, we will discuss an approach regarding the strategy of tackling such questions in UPSC Prelims Exam. But before discussing the detailed approach let's have a look at the important features related to the IUCN Red List and the different categories of species enlisted under this.


IUCN) is an international organization (NGO) working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, lobbying, and education. The organization is best known for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1964, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. When discussing the IUCN Red List, the official term “threatened” is a grouping of three categories: Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.


The pink pages in this publication include the critically endangered species. As the status of the species changes, new pages are sent to the subscribers. Green pages are used for those species that were formerly endangered but have now recovered to a point where they are no longer threatened. With passing time, the number of pink pages continues to increase. The following categories have been classified in this list :

  • Extinct (EX)  No known individuals remaining.
  • Extinct in the wild (EW)  Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalized population outside its historic range.
  • Critically endangered (CR)  Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
  • reduction in a population (greater than 90% over the last 10 years),
  • population size (a number less than 50 mature individuals),
  • quantitative analysis showing the probability of extinction in wild in at least 50% in their 10 years, and
  • it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
  • Endangered (EN) High risk of extinction in the wild.
  • Vulnerable (VU)  High risk of endangerment in the wild.
  • Near threatened (NT)  Likely to become endangered in the near future.
  • Least concern (LC) Lowest risk. Does not qualify for a more at-risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.
  • Data deficient (DD)  Not enough data to assess its risk of extinction.
  • Not evaluated (NE)  Has not yet been evaluated against the criteria.

Most of the questions are asked based on the information given above. However, there are various resources available in online and offline markets that give a detailed description of the species put under the different categories.


Resources to be Followed:

It is advisable to go through the NCERT books to have basic knowledge about the threatened and vulnerable species. Most of the questions usually come from NCERT based on static knowledge. As this list keeps on updating round the years so it is quite important to have strict vigil on these developments. Reading regular newspapers like The Hindu and following websites like Down to Earth can cover your maximum dynamic portion and make you equip with current events. Integrating static and dynamic portions is the key to success in this exam.


However, the above practice could be quite hectic and time-consuming. The entire practice could be curtailed through Prelims Sampoorna Fact File on IUCN Red List compiled by GS Score. This fact file is an updated list of all the related developments associated with the IUCN Red List. GS Score is a Prestigious IAS Coaching of India known to give one of the best results in the IAS Exam.

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