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 ( 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

Make an online donation and save an acre of Patagonia