9 Top Threatened Species

The Red List of Threatened Species kept by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has been updated, and although all of the news isn’t bad, for the most part it’s pretty grim. The IUCN Red List was founded in 1963 and is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.

Despite the action of conservation programs, 25 percent of mammals are at risk of extinction.

“The IUCN Red List is critical as an indicator of the health of biodiversity, in identifying conservation needs and informing necessary changes in policy and legislation to drive conservation forward,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “The world is full of marvelous species that are rapidly moving towards becoming things of myth and legend if conservation efforts are not more success fully implemented—if we do not act now, future generations may not know what a Chinese Water Fir or a Bizarre-nosed Chameleon look like.”

Following are some of the 2011 notable updates to the list.

Black Rhino
Good bye black rhino, it’s heartbreaking to see you go. The reassessments of several rhino species show that the subspecies of the black rhino in western Africa–the western black rhino–is officially extinct. Great job, us.

In other rhino news, the subspecies of the white rhino in central Africa–the northern white rhino–is currently nearing extinction and has been listed as possibly extinct in the wild. The Javan rhino is also teetering, as the subspecies rhinoceros sondaicus annasmiticus is probably extinct, following the poaching of what is thought to be the last animal in Vietnam in 2010. Although this is not the end of the Javan rhino, it does reduce the species to a single, minuscule, decreasing population on Java.

One of conservation’s success stories is (Ceratotherium simum simum), a subspecies of the African southern white rhino, which has soared in number from less than 100 individuals to 20,000 since the end of the 19th century.

Photograph: Dr Richard Emslie/IUCN

Tarzan’s Chameleon
Reptiles make up an important part of biodiversity, particularly in dryland habitats and on islands around the world. Recently, many more reptile species have been assessed including most of those found in Madagascar. The current Red List shows that a surprising 40 percent of Madagascar’s terrestrial reptiles are threatened. The 22 Madagascan species currently identified as critically endangered, which include chameleons, geckoes, skinks and snakes, have become a serious conservation challenge.

Named after the town of Tarzanville in Madagascar where it was discovered in 2009, Tarzan’s chameleon is one of the most colorful of the 61,900 species on this year’s updated Red List. Calumma tarzan is critically endangered and one of 22 terrestrial reptiles listed as threatened in Madagascar, mainly because tropical forests are being cleared.

Fortunately, there are new conservation areas being designated in Madagascar that will help conserve a significant proportion of critically endangered species.

Photograph: Jîrn Kîhler/IUCN

Chinese Water Fir
Plants are a crucial resource for human wellbeing and are a critical part for wildlife habitats, yet they often play second fiddle in the media to animal species that are in danger. Current work by the IUCN is under way to increase attention to them, and includes a review of all conifers. The results so far highlight some troubling trends. The Chinese water fir, for example, which was formerly commonly found throughout China and Vietnam has moved from endangered to critically endangered. The cause of diminishment is the loss of habitat to increasing intensive agriculture–in China there appear to be none of these wild plants remaining. This species is rapidly moving towards becoming extinct in the wild

Photograph: Philip Thomas/IUCN


Giant Manta Ray
Until recently only one species of manta ray was known, but recent field observations now show that there are actually two species of manta: the reef manta ray and the giant manta ray. Sadly, both are now classified as vulnerable. The giant manta ray is the largest living ray, which can grow to more than seven meters across. Unfortunately, manta ray products have a high value in international trade markets and specialized fisheries hunt them for their valuable gill rakers used in traditional Chinese medicine. Sigh.

Photograph: Andrea Marshall/IUCN

Coco der Mer (Lodoicea maldivica)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the Coco de Mer is prized for its supposed aphrodisiac properties. Despite strict regulations governing collection and sale of its seed, a significant black market exists for the kernels, resulting in the plant from the Seychelles being moved from vulnerable to endangered status. IUCN says the plant is under threat from fires as well as the illegal harvesting. And just a note: globally, a fifth of plants face extinction.

Photograph: Jean-Christophe Vie/IUCN

Atlantic Bluefin
Five of eight species of tuna are now in the threatened or near-threatened categories, including the endangered Atlantic bluefin (Thunnus thynnus) pictured above. The other struggling species are the southern bluefin (critically endangered), atlantic bluefin (endangered), bigeye (vulnerable), yellowfin (near threatened), and albacore (near threatened). Hopefully, the listings will help governments introduce and enforce safeguards to preserve them–unfortunately, many of these species are of extremely high economic value.

For information on eating sustainable seafood, see Safe, Sustainable Fish.

Photograph: Keith Ellenbogen/Oceana/IUCN

Begonia Seychellensis
This beautiful, delicate flower, as well as many other tropical plant species are at great risk. The majority of endemic flowering plants in the granitic Seychelles islands have been assessed and current studies show that of the 79 endemic species, 77 percent (roughly 60 of the 79) are at risk of extinction.

Photograph: Justin Gerlach/IUCN

 

Blessed Poison Frog
Amphibians are a vital component in the ecosystem, and are important indicators of environmental health–they are also used in the search for new medicines. And as one of the most threatened groups, they are closely monitored by IUCN. Twenty-six newly discovered amphibians were added to the Red List this year–including the blessed poison frog (Ranitomeya benedicta). The blessed poison frog, discovered in 2008 in Peru, is currently listed as vulnerable–it seems like with many new species, as soon as they are discovered, they’re already almost extinct. Another important frog, the summers poison frog is endangered and is threatened by habitat loss and harvesting for the international pet trade.

Photograph: Jason Brown/IUCN

Przewalski’s Horse (Equus ferus)
From the good news file, the Przewalski’s horse is (relatively) a success story. Yay! Moving up from Critically Endangered to Endangered status, it was listed as Extinct in the Wild in 1996, but thanks to a captive breeding program and a successful reintroduction program, the population is now estimated at more than 300. Little steps, but with patience, dedication,  and perseverance–maybe some of these dwindling species may have a chance yet.

Patricia D Moehlman/IUCN

Related:

Top 10 New Species
6 Species Facing Extinction Without Protection
5 Penguin Species Receive Legal Protection

130 comments

Jeanne R
Jeanne R9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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colleen p.
colleen p5 years ago

Some people don't believe the infomation on IUCN Red List . "its a lie' they say. somehow, worldwide(including all subspeciese) Canis Lupus is "least concern". what? with one state having only 300 Canadian wolves in it, we need to do something eh?

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Vera Y.
Vera Yuno5 years ago

so sad, humans r despicable

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Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. An other animal is gone only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day).

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

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Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. An other animal is gone only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day).

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

SEND
Brigid C.
Brigid C6 years ago

I love the wolves and lament all these killings

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