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Red Data Book 

      What is the Red Data Book?

The Red Data Book is a public document that records all rare and endangered species of plants, animals, and fungi existing within the boundary of the state or territory. The Red Data Book, also referred to as the Red List also documents some local subspecies of animals, plants, and fungi in the particular region, prone to extinction. In simple terms, it is a catalogue of species facing the risk of extinction.

The International Union and Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) maintains the Red Data Book. The IUCN was founded in 1965 with an aim to conserve nature and promote sustainable utilisation of natural resources. The IUCN is now called World Conservation Union (WCU), and its headquarters are located at Morges, Switzerland.

The book aims to help researchers in designing efficient measures to protect and secure endangered species. In addition, the Red Data Book gives essential information for monitoring programmes on the habitats of all endangered and rare species.

      History of the Red Data Book

The first-ever Red Data Book was developed by Russian biologists and was based on extensive research carried out from 1961 to 1964. This book contained the list of all endangered species of plants, animals, and fungi existing within the Russian Territorial Jurisdiction. Hence, it was called the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation (RDBRF).

Since its establishment in 1964, the IUCN has been maintaining the Red Data Book. It has a complete record of every species on the planet. The Red Data Book is considered one of the most definitive sources with respect to the present status of biodiversity across the globe. Besides the IUCN, individual countries and states maintain national and regional red data books. These national and regional red data books provide information about the complete list of threatened species existing within their regional boundaries.

According to the IUCN (1966), the aim and objectives of the Red Data Book are:

  • To provide evidence-based information with respect to the situation of all species and subspecies worldwide.
  • To provide valuable insights into biodiversity so that effective actions are taken to conserve biological diversity.
  • To highlight the pace at which species are becoming endangered and extinct.
  • To serve as a basis for research and studies of all endangered species on the planet.

The Red Data Book consists of colour-coded information sheets where each colour represents a specific meaning.

  • Black colour represents all extinct species.
  • Red colour represents all endangered species.
  • Amber colour represents all vulnerable species.
  • White colour represents all rare species.
  • Green colour represents all species that are out of danger. The species which were previously endangered but whose number started to recover fall under this category.
  • Grey colour represents all endangered, rare, and vulnerable species, but enough information is unavailable to accurately classify them.

      Red Data Book of India

The Red Data Book of India consists of information about all species and subspecies that are endemic to the Indian subcontinent. All the information furnished in this book is taken from studies carried out by the Zoological Survey of India and the Botanical Survey of India. According to the Red Data Book of India, the following categories of critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable species have been identified.

Critically Endangered Species:

  • Pygmy Hog - It is a mammal. There are only 150 Pygmy Hogs in India.
  • Malabar Civet - It is a mammal. It’s scientifically called Viverra civettina.
  • Podophyllum - It is a perennial plant and is also called mayapple.
  • Spoon Billed Sandpiper - It is a bird whose scientific name is Eurynorhynchus pygmeus.

Endangered Species:

  • Red Panda - Found only in Kanchenjunga (Sikkim).
  • Blue Whale
  • Lion-tailed Macaque - Found in the Western Ghats of India.
  • Asiatic Wild Ass - Found in the Rann of Kutch.
  • Siberian Crane - Found in the Ghana National Park.
  • Lemur - Found in Madagascar.


  • Black Buck - Found in the Ghana National Park.
  • Clouded Leopard - Found in South-East China.
  • Nilgiri marten - It is a mammal whose scientific name is Martes gwatkinsii.

Advantages of the Red Data Book

  • The book helps in estimating the overall population of any given subspecies or species of a plant or animal.
  • The book helps in evaluating the taxa at a global level.
  • The book helps in the identification of the conservation status of any given plant, animal, or other bird species.
  • The book provides valuable information about endangered species, based on which effective measures for protecting biodiversity can be framed.

Advantages of the Red Data Book

  • The book provides no information regarding the status of microbes.
  • The information present in the Red Data Book is not complete. Numerous extinct and extant species are not updated in this book.
  • The validity of the information is always questioned because of the lack of documentation of the data source.


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