Essentially, the Red Data Book refers to a document maintained by a state or a nation that is established to record and document the rare and endangered species of plants and animals that exist within the boundary of that respective state or nation. All the known endangered species and sub-species of plants, fungi and animals are recorded to the Red Data Book.
The Red Data Book helps to provide detailed information for studies and research regarding the endangered species and subspecies of animals. In addition to that it also helps in coordinating and developing monitoring programs on these endangered and rare species. It is of great help in designing effective measures that could help in protecting various endangered species.
The Red Data Book is maintained by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). This organisation had been founded in the year 1965 and works towards the “conservation of nature and the sustainable use of the natural resources.”
Brief History of the Red Data Book
The first Red Data Book animals, plants and fungi was based upon the extensive research carried out by biologists in the Soviet Union which was conducted between the years 1961 and 1964. This document that listed all the endangered species of plants, fungi and animals, within the Russian territorial jurisdiction was known as the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation (RDBRF).
The Red Data Book has been maintained by the IUCN since 1964 and has used a set of criteria to evaluate the risk of extinction of thousands of endangered species and sub species around the world. The set of criteria are chosen such that they are relevant to all the species and all regions of the world. It has been over the years recognised to be one of the most authoritative sources regarding the current status of biological diversity in the world at any given point in time. Apart from the centralised IUCN Red Data Book, there are also other regional or national red data books that are maintained by individual states or nations that contain the cumulative data regarding endangered species within their own territorial boundaries.
The objectives of maintaining the Red Data Book, as provided by the IUCN (1996) are given as follows
“To provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level”
“To draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity”
“To influence national and international policy and decision-making”
“To provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity”
The information detailed in the Red data Book are provided in carefully colour coded sections depending on the level of endangerment that a species has been found in. The specific meanings of the colour coding of the information has been provided below.
Black: Extinct species;
Red: Critically Endangered Species;
Orange: Endangered species;
Amber: Vulnerable Species;
White: Rare species;
Green: Out of Danger species;
Grey: Species that are “endangered, vulnerable or rare but with a lack of sufficient information to precisely categorise them”
Advantages of the Red Data Book
It can be used to estimate the total population of any given species of plant or animal.
It can be used to evaluate the taxa at a pan – global scale.
It can be used to find out the conservation status of any species.
It can be used to evaluate the risk of endangerment of any species of animals, plants or fungi at any given time.
It can be beneficial in developing a conservation plan for an endangered species of animals or plants.
Disadvantages of the Red Data Book
The documentation regarding the sources of the data have not always been properly maintained and as such the validity of the data can sometimes be brought to question.
The Red Data Book is a work in progress and not all of the endangered or extinct species have yet been identified or put in and as such may not provide the most accurate data at any given point of time.
Red Data Book of India
According to the IUCN Red Data Book of India, the following categories for endangered species have been identified.
Critically Endangered Mammals
Malabar Civet (Viverra civettina)
Dhole / Asiatic wild dog or Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus)
Lion-tailed macaque / wanderoo (macaca silenus)
Nilgiri langur / Nilgiri leaf monkey (Trachypithecus johnii)
Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius)
Gaur / Indian Bison
Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsii)
Critically Endangered Birds
Spoon Billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)
Near Threatened Reptiles
Sispara day gecko (Cnemaspis sisparensis)
Red Data Book refers to a document maintained by a state or a nation that is established to record and document the rare and endangered species of flora and fauna that exist within the boundary of that respective state or nation.
Information about Red Data Book is maintained by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
The first Red Data Book animals, plants and fungi was based upon the extensive research carried out by biologists in the Soviet Union which was conducted between the years 1961 and 1964.
Colour coding of the list is done as follows - Black: Extinct species; Red: Critically Endangered Species; Orange: Endangered species; Amber: Vulnerable Species; White: Rare species; Green: Out of Danger species; Grey: Species that are “endangered, vulnerable or rare but with a lack of sufficient information to precisely categorise them.”
1. What is a Red Data Book?
Answer: A Red Data Book is a document that keeps a record of all the endangered species of animals, plants, and fungi in a country or a state. The International Union for Conservation of Nature established the Red Data Book to safeguard the rare species of flora and fauna on Earth, so as to prevent their extinction.
The Red Data Book is one of the most important concepts that are related to the study of the biodiversity of animals.
2. What is the Importance of a Red Data Book?
Answer: A Red Data Book plays an important role in the protection of the endangered species of a state or country. It provides all the relevant information regarding the rare species of plants or animals to facilitate research and studies. Since all the information and updates on the endangered species of flora and fauna are written in a Red Data Book, it is easier to keep track of the programs that are conducted to prevent these species from becoming extinct.
3. What are the Advantages of a Red Data Book?
Answer: There are several advantages of a Red Data Book. For example, by referring to a Red Data Book, all the species of plants, animals, and fungi within a state or a country can be identified, easily. Also, the status of their conservation can be tracked with the help of a Red Data Book. It helps researchers to compose the essential framework for planning and implementing conservation programs of the rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. With the help of the data recorded in a Red Data Book, it becomes easier to assess and estimate the risks for the extinction of taxa.
4. What are the Disadvantages of a Red Data Book?
Answer: One of the major drawbacks of a Red Data Book is that it does not provide any record on the types of microbes existing in a state or a country. For some Red Data Books, the sources are not transparent enough and that has led to several controversies. Consequently, the data on several extinct or extant species are not updated in it.