The Red Data Book – Endangered Species

August 17th, 2010 Sections: Flora and Fauna, For the Record, Kyrgyzstan

The “Red Book” is a phrase used for a list of endangered species.

The Red Data Book of the USSR (also known as the Krasnaya Kniga) was the Soviet Union’s contribution to the IUCN Red List maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN –  The book took its name from this worldwide “list”- and was not connected with the politics of the Communist regime.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, (IUCN – The World Conservation Union), was founded in 1948 and has its headquarters in Switzerland.  Its membership includes more than 80 states, (but not Kyrgyzstan), 100 government agencies, 750 NGOs , 80 international organizations and a number of Affiliate members … which means it has over 10000 experts on whom it can draw for information and expertise.The Union has six Commissions which asses the state of the world’s natural resources and one of these is the Species Survival Commission.  The 7000 members of this Commission advises the Union on all aspects of species conservation and produces the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species – which is updated every four years, although not every species is able to be re-evaluated every time.  The latest edition was issued in May 2006.

It is widely recognized as the most authoritative guide to worldwide biodiversity.

The IUCN website actually lists 269 endangered species resident in Kyrgyzstan – 263 species of animals and 6 species of plants – although it should be remembered that this list includes species which are variously categorized as:

Code Description Plants Animals
in Kyrgyzstan
EX Extinct
EW Extinct in the Wild
CR Critically Endangered 1
EN Endangered 7
VU Vulnerable 1 12
LR/cd Lower Risk / Conservation Dependent
NT Near Threatened 17
DD Data Deficient 2
LC Least Concern 5 224
TOTALS 6 263

There is also a category NE – Not evaluated.  The categories Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable are classified as Threatened species.

More information can be found on their websites: and

Citation: IUCN 2006. 2006IUCN Red List of threatened Species. <>.  Downloaded on 11 March 2007.

Originally the “Red Data Book of the USSR” was just an organized list of endangered species – widely consulted, especially by those considering measures for the protection and rehabilitation of such species, but it later became a legislative document providing for the implementation of various measures and programmes.

The Red Book of the USSR was published in 1978 as a formalization of earlier research, and was subsequently followed by a number of other local versions in different republics of the Union – for example Russia, the Ukraine, Turkmenistan … indeed all of the CIS states now publish their own version, and even for regions and much smaller areas.  Moscow has its own official Red Data Book.

In 1979 the Ministerial Council of the Kyrgyz SSR adopted a decree approving the the list of rare and threatened species including:

    • 13 species of mammals
    • 20 bird species
    • 3 reptiles
    • 1 species of fish
    • 5 inspects and
    • 65 plant species.

The Red Data Book of the Kyrgyz SSR  was published as a book in 1985 and ran to 136 pages with line drawings and maps showing the distribution of the various species throughout the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic.

It was not the first instrument adopted in the republic which provided measures for the protection of endangered species.  Legal protection for endangered species began with the first law on hunting which was enacted in 1930.  Currently, as well as prohibiting their hunting, killing or the collection of specimens of certain species, Kyrgyzstan has created a number of special preserves, parks and natural reserves and in some cases populations of animals are “relocated” to assist the preservation of the species – for example the wild nopar and maral.

In 2005 a new list of endangered species was approved by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. The list showed some considerable changes … including removing the two snakes which had been included in the earlier version on the basis that there had only ever been one specimen of each observed in Kyrgyzstan … completely revising the list of insects and spiders … adding several mushrooms and other fungi … The changes can be summarized as follows:

Then, in 2009, some further amendments were made to the list.  Here is a summary of the changes:

1985 list
from the
list in 2005
to the
list in 2005
2005 list
from the
list in 2009
to the
list in 2009
2009 list
Mammals 13 0 13 26 0 0 26
Birds 20 0 33 53 2 6 57
Reptiles and amphibians 3 2 9 10 0 0 10
Fish 1 0 6 7 0 0 7
Insects 5 5 18 18 0 0 18
Plants and fungi 65 14 44 95 12 4 87
TOTALS: 107 21 123 209 14 9 204

Although the list has been published, a new edition of the Red Data Book for the Kyrgyz Republic still has yet to be prepared and published.

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