Four out of six great ape species are now Critically Endangered – only one step away from going extinct – with the remaining two also under considerable threat of extinction, judging from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s latest Red List.
The IUCN Red List update released in September also reports the decline of the Plains Zebra due to illegal hunting, and the growing extinction threat to Hawaiian plants posed by invasive species. Thirty eight of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plant species assessed for this update are listed as ‘Extinct’ and four other species have been listed as ‘Extinct’ in the Wild, meaning they only occur in cultivation.
The IUCN Red List now includes 82,954 species of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.
These include The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) – which is made up of two subspecies – has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered due to a devastating population decline of more than 70% in 20 years.
Several other plants and animals from Hawaii too figure in the list.
Meanwhile, the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), previosuly listed as ‘Endangered’ is now listed as Vulnerable, thanks to the Chinese government’s conservation efforts. But these gains could be reversed due to climate change that is predicted to eliminate more than 35% of the Panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.
The Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) too has has moved from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Near Threatened’. The population underwent a severe decline from around one million to an estimated 65,000-72,500 in the 1980s and early 1990s, due to commercial poaching for the valuable underfur – shahtoosh – which is used to make shawls.
Other conservation successes include the Greater Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus conditor), endemic to Australia, and the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata),
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