International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List

If you’ve never heard of the IUCN, or its Red List for that matter, you’re probably not alone. However, I believe all cichlidophiles should familiarize themselves with the list, especially those who consider themselves a responsible hobbyist within the context of conservation.

The IUCN “..is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.” Its purpose is to promote global conservation efforts (that’s a simplified description). For a full description, see the IUCN website. Integral to the organization’s mission is evaluating the conservation status of the planet’s flora and fauna. This is where the Red List comes in. According to its website, “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.”

Simply put, many cichlid species around the world are in trouble, meaning that they may well become extinct without human intervention of some kind. Sadly, some of the cichlid species being sold at your LFS and/or online are in trouble and are categorized as such on the Red List. The list utilizes several categories to distinguish the threat level of wild species in their natural range, as described in the image below.

Structure of the Red List Categories. Image from http://www.iucnredlist.org/.

What exactly does all of that mean for you? If you buy wild caught cichlids (referred to as F0 in the hobby) and you’re a responsible hobbyist as I describe, then you should be cognizant of their status on the Red List. In other words, I think you should look-up the species you plan to purchase and see what its status is before you purchase it. Please don’t depend on the cichlid vendor to know that information or assume the vendor cares, and don’t knowingly contribute to the unnecessary exploitation of any cichlid species.