Jun 16

Released today, the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that a staggering 19,265 species are currently threatened with extinction.

Over 900 new species have been classified as threatened – that is, considered to be Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable – since the last update in 2010, showing that there is no let up in the extinction crisis threatening the world’s biodiversity.

Although more species are thought to be threatened than ever before, the IUCN are keen to highlight that there have also been major conservation success stories.

A grain of hope in the desert

Photo of Arabian oryx males fighting

The Arabian oryx was nearly hunted to extinction. It is believed that the last wild individual was shot in 1972, but this year, thanks to successful captive breeding and re-introduction efforts, the wild population now stands at more than 1,000 individuals and currently faces a much more secure future.

To have brought the Arabian oryx back from the brink of extinction is a major feat and a true conservation success story, one which we hope will be repeated many times over for other threatened species,” says  H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, a principal sponsor of ARKive.

Photo of an Arabian oryx walking down sand dune

As a result of the dedicated drive to ensure the survival of this majestic species in the wild, the Arabian oryx has now been downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It also makes history as being the first species once listed as Extinct in the Wild to have improved by three threat categories.

Find out more about the Arabian oryx on ARKive, watch a video by The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) about the conservation programme or visit our Jewels of the UAE pages to discover more of the United Arab Emirates stunning biodiversity.

New to the IUCN Red List in 2011

The trends for amphibians are alarming, with 41% of species thought to be at risk of extinction. Of the 19 amphibian species added to the Red List, 8 have been listed as Critically Endangered, including Atelopus patazensis, a striking harlequin toad from Peru.

Photo of Atelopus patazensis

Atelopus patazensis

The recently discovered Wallace’s tarsier is listed by the IUCN as Data Deficient, while the closely related Siau Island Tarsier is Critically Endangered.

Photo of Wallace’s tarsier

Wallace’s tarsier

The new update also sees an assessment of all 248 lobster species. Around 35% of these have been classified as Data Deficient, including the mysterious Caribbean spiny lobster.

Photo of a large spiny lobster displaying defensive behaviour

Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus

IUCN Red List – a gateway for conservation

With species extinctions happening at an estimated 100 to 1,000 times the natural rate, it has never been more important to find new ways to tackle the unprecedented loss of the world’s biodiversity.

As the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species, with almost 60,000 species having been assessed, the IUCN Red List is a vital tool in conservation planning.

The key to halting the extinction crisis is to target efforts towards eradicating the major threats faced by species and their environment; only then can their future be secured. The IUCN Red List acts as a gateway to such efforts, by providing decision makers with a goldmine of information not only on the current status of the species, but also on existing threats and the conservation actions required,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission and Wildscreen trustee.

ARKive’s role

Wildscreen, the charity behind ARKive, is working with the IUCN to help raise the public profile of the world’s threatened species, through the emotive power of wildlife films and photos.

While the outlook for many species is still alarming, the improvement in status of some species on the IUCN Red List is real testament to the valuable impact conservation work can have” says Richard Edwards, Chief Executive of Wildscreen. “We need to urgently 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: