South Africa’s Red List – of species threatened with extinction – indicates where animals and ecosystems are in distress. Nearly 20% of South Africa’s mammal species are either critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. Concerted action is being taken on all fronts to help save them.

Did you know?

Of the 295 South African mammal species evaluated, 57 (19%) were assigned red list categories.

The very first Red Data Book was published in 1963 by Sir Peter Scott of the IUCN (World Conservation Union) in the United Kingdom.

Updated regularly, it has remained one of the world's most useful ways of highlighting the potential losses of biodiversity. In fact, most conservationists say that this list has probably saved dozens of species that might otherwise have sunk quietly into extinction.

Top of the list of priorities are the animals labeled 'critically endangered'. These face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

South Africa's red list of these species includes 10 animals, or 3.4% of the country's mammals.

Most of these are animals with little chance of being seen, no less than five species of golden moles, two species of bats, along with slightly more visible species like the desert black rhino, riverine rabbit and Ngoye red squirrel.

That's followed by 'endangered', with a very high risk of extinction (18 species), then 29 species listed as 'vulnerable'. Their continued existence demands intervention.

The next category on South Africa's red list species is 'near-threatened', also informally referred to as ‘threatened'. These are species that may qualify for one of the above in the near future.

Other categories are animals of ‘least concern' and ‘data deficient'.

South Africa's red list of threatened species has been updated regularly since 2004.

All red listed species in South Africa are receiving special conservation attention. In many cases, private landowners have proved pivotal in providing sanctuaries that boost numbers. The oribi antelope is one example of a species that has benefited.