UPSC PRELIMS 2020: Process of Declaring A Species Extinct

Process of Declaring A Species Extinct

Topic: Process of Declaring A Species Extinct

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

Process of Declaring A Species Extinct


One of the largest freshwater fish, Chinese paddlefish has been declared extinct in a study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. 

About the “extinct” Chinese paddlefish

  • Chinese paddlefish measured up to 7 m in length making it an “iconic species”.
  • It dates back 200 million years ago.
  • Its ancestral home was the Yangtze River.

Reason for extinction:

Overfishing and Habitat Fragmentation.

Criteria of the red list of the international union for conservation of nature:

  • “Extinct in the wild” means a species survives only in a captive environment.
  • “Locally extinct” means a species has ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas. 
  • “Functionally extinct” means the species continues to exist but it has too few members to enable to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival. 
  • “Globally extinct”, it means a species has no surviving member anywhere. Such a conclusion is reached when there is no reasonable doubt left that its last member has died.

Process of declaring a species extinct

  • Declaring a species extinct is an elaborate process involving:
  • A series of exhaustive surveys, which need to be taken at appropriate times, throughout the species’ historic range and over a time-frame that is appropriate to the species’ life cycle and form. 
  • When these surveys fail to record the existence of any individuals belonging to that species, a species may be presumed to be extinct.

 Therefore, Once declared extinct, a species is not eligible for protective measures and conservation funding.


Sample Question:

Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched?

                      Species                            IUCN Status

  1. Chinese paddlefish       –     Critically Endangered
  2. Humpback mahseer    –      Endangered
  3. Pondicherry Shark      –     Critically Endangered

Select the answer using the code below:

  • (a) 1 and 3
  • (b) 2 only
  • (c) 3 only
  • (d) 2 and 3

Answer: C