John Burton of the World Land Trust has been researching the history of Red Lists and Red Data Books (lists of endangered species), and has collected one of the most extensive collections available. The Red Data Books stemmed from an idea by the late Sir Peter Scott, and were developed during the 1960s, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently published the latest edition of the international Red List on their web site (www.redlist.org). The species were originally defined as, Endangered, Threatened or Vulnerable, and subsequently further categories have been added added.
In researching the mammals found on the Estancia La Esperanza Reserve in Patagonia, that the World Land Trust is helping fund, John Burton has uncovered a very early Red List. Although not called a red list, it does use categories of threat very similar to those used in the Red Data Books – yet it was published in 1940, long before the concept became widely used.
It is the final chapter of Mamiferos Sud-Americanos, by Angel Cabrera and Jose Yepes, published in Argentina (in Spanish) in 1940. The Authors gave a list of threatened species in Argentina, using the following categories:
Especies problamente exterminadas (Species Probably Extinct)
Especies casi exterminadas (Species very near extinction = Critically Endangered)
Especies Amenazadas de exterminacion (Endangered Species)
Especies en retroceso numericao continuo (Species whose numbers continue to decline = Vulnerable).
These are extremely similar to those used later by IUCN, but this original paper appears to have been overlooked by all historians of Red Data Books.
Cabrera, A & J Yepes 1940 Mamiferos Sud-Americanos. Buenos Aires