The latest report from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that 61,914 species have now been assessed, providing a better insight than ever before into the state of the world’s biodiversity. The IUCN Red List now not only contains a higher number of species, but also a great diversity, moving it a step closer to becoming a true ‘Barometer of Life’.
Highs and Lows
While 25% of mammals are still at risk of extinction, the report covers conservation successes as well as losses. Przewalski’s horse was originally listed as Extinct in the Wild but, thanks to captive breeding and a successful reintroduction programme, the conservation status of this species has improved dramatically. This latest update sees this species downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
“This update offers both good and bad news on the status of many species around the world,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”
In recent years, the conservation status of many of the world’s reptiles has been assessed, including most of the species of reptile found in Madagascar. A troubling 40% of the country’s reptiles are threatened with extinction, with 22 species being assessed as Critically Endangered, including the stunning Tarzan’s chameleon.
Many economically important species of fish are also at risk of extinction, with five of the eight species of tuna now listed as threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Among these is the northern bluefin tuna, previously listed as Data Deficient and now listed as Endangered. The yellowfin and albacore tuna have also both been placed in the Near Threatened category.
One of the most closely monitored groups, the amphibians have seen 26 newly discovered species added to the IUCN Red List, including the blessed poison frog (Ranitomeya benedicta) and Summers’ poison frog (Ranitomeya summersi). Both of these species are threatened by habitat loss and harvesting for the international pet trade.
Work is currently being carried out to increase the number of plants assessed on the IUCN Red List, with the new report revealing that 77% of the endemic flowering plants of the Seychelles are believed to be at risk of extinction. The fascinating coco-de-mer palm, which has the largest seeds of any plant in the world, has now been uplisted to Endangered.
It is hoped for many species that the latest IUCN Red List update will provide vital information to aid in conservation decision making.
Wildscreen, the charity behind ARKive, is working with the IUCN to promote a greater public appreciation of the world’s biodiversity and the conservation of nature through the power of wildlife imagery.
“Expanding both the number and diversity of species assessed on the IUCN Red List is imperative if we are to conserve the natural world.” said Richard Edwards, Chief Executive of Wildscreen.
“We need to address our disconnection from the natural world, and will only succeed in rescuing species from the brink of extinction if we successfully communicate their plight, significance, value and importance.”
Explore more threatened species on ARKive.
Find out more about the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and this year’s update.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author