[enviro-vlc] IUCN/SSC Red List press release
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Tue Oct 7 04:25:25 EST 2008
(see attached files.)
See also: http://www.iucnredlist.org/
From: HORSLEY Sarah [mailto:Sarah.HORSLEY at iucn.org]
Sent: Fri 10/3/2008 11:46 PM
Subject: IUCN Red List press release
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES
Embargoed until 14:00 CEST Monday, October 6, 2008
IUCN Red List reveals world’s mammals in crisis
Barcelona, Spain, 6 October, 2008 (IUCN) –The most comprehensive
assessment of the world’s mammals has confirmed an extinction crisis,
with almost one in four at risk of disappearing forever, according to
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
The new study to assess the world’s mammals shows at least 1,141 of
the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with
extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since 1500. But
the results also show conservation can bring species back from the
brink of extinction, with five percent of currently threatened
mammals showing signs of recovery in the wild.
“Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of
our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the
ecosystems where they live,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director
General. “We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse
this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many
of our closest relatives.”
The real situation could be much worse as 836 mammals are listed as
Data Deficient. With better information more species may well prove
to be in danger of extinction.
“The reality is that the number of threatened mammals could be as
high as 36 percent,” says Jan Schipper, of Conservation International
and lead author in a forthcoming article in Science. “This indicates
that conservation action backed by research is a clear priority for
the future, not only to improve the data so that we can evaluate
threats to these poorly known species, but to investigate means to
recover threatened species and populations.”
The results show 188 mammals are in the highest threat category of
Critically Endangered, including the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus),
which has a population of just 84-143 adults and has continued to
decline due to a shortage of its primary prey, the European Rabbit
China’s Père David’s Deer (Elaphurus davidianus), is listed as
Extinct in the Wild. However, the captive and semi-captive
populations have increased in recent years and it is possible that
truly wild populations could be re-established soon. It may be too
late, however, to save the additional 29 species that have been
flagged as Critically Endangered Possibly Extinct, including Cuba’s
Little Earth Hutia (Mesocapromys sanfelipensis), which has not been
seen in nearly 40 years.
Nearly 450 mammals have been listed as Endangered, including the
Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), which moved from Least
Concern to Endangered after the global population declined by more
than 60 percent in the last 10 years due to a fatal infectious facial
The Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), found in Southeast Asia,
moved from Vulnerable to Endangered due to habitat loss in wetlands.
Similarly, the Caspian Seal (Pusa caspica) moved from Vulnerable to
Endangered. Its population has declined by 90 percent in the last 100
years due to unsustainable hunting and habitat degradation and is
Habitat loss and degradation affect 40 percent of the world’s
mammals. It is most extreme in Central and South America, West, East
and Central Africa, Madagascar, and in South and Southeast Asia. Over
harvesting is wiping out larger mammals, especially in Southeast
Asia, but also in parts of Africa and South America.
The Grey-faced Sengi or Elephant-shrew (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis) is
only known from two forests in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania,
both of which are fully protected but vulnerable to fires. The
species was first described this year and has been placed in the
For more information or to set up interviews, please contact: • Sarah
Horsley, IUCN Media Relations Officer, m +34 600 906 822, m +41 79
528 3486, e sarah.horsley at iucn.org • Carolin Wahnbaeck, IUCN, m +34
600 919 620, m +41 79 858 87593, e carolin.wahnbaeck at iucn.org
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™ But it is not all bad news.
The assessment of the world’s mammals shows that species can recover
with concerted conservation efforts. The Black-footed Ferret (Mustela
nigripes) moved from Extinct in the Wild to Endangered after a
successful reintroduction by the US Fish and Wildlife Service into
eight western states and Mexico from 1991-2008. Similarly, the Wild
Horse (Equus ferus) moved from Extinct in the Wild in 1996 to
Critically Endangered this year after successful reintroductions
started in Mongolia in the early 1990s.
The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) moved from Vulnerable to
Near Threatened, although its status varies considerably across its
range. The move reflects the recent and ongoing population increases
in major populations in southern and eastern Africa. These increases
are big enough to outweigh any decreases that may be taking place
“The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to prevent future
extinctions,” says Dr Jane Smart, Head of IUCN’s Species Programme.
“We now know what species are threatened, what the threats are and
where – we have no more excuses to watch from the sidelines.”
The project to assess the world’s mammals was conducted with help
from more than 1,800 scientists from over 130 countries. It was made
possible by the volunteer help of IUCN Species Survival Commission’s
specialist groups and the collaborations between top institutions and
universities, including Conservation International, Sapienza
Università di Roma, Arizona State University, Texas A&M University,
University of Virginia, and the Zoological Society of London.
More than mammals
Overall, the IUCN Red List now includes 44,838 species, of which
16,928 are threatened with extinction (38 percent). Of these, 3,246
are in the highest category of threat, Critically Endangered, 4,770
are Endangered and 8,912 are Vulnerable to extinction.
New groups of species have appeared on the IUCN Red List for the
first time, increasing the diversity and richness of the data. Indian
tarantulas, highly prized by collectors and threatened by the
international pet trade, have made their first appearance on the IUCN
Red List. They face habitat loss due to new roads and settlements.
The Rameshwaram Parachute Spider (Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica) has
been listed as Critically Endangered as its natural habitat has been
almost completely destroyed.
For the first time, all 161 grouper species have been assessed, of
which 20 are threatened with extinction. The Squaretail Coral Grouper
(Plectropomus areolatus) from the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific has
been listed as Vulnerable. The fish is seen as a luxury live food and
is typically fished unsustainably at its spawning aggregations, a
major threat for many grouper species.
Amphibians are facing an extinction crisis, with 366 species added to
the IUCN Red List this year. There are now 1,983 species (32 percent)
either threatened or extinct. In Costa Rica, Holdridge’s Toad
(Incilius holdridgei), an endemic species, moved from Critically
Endangered to Extinct, as it has not been seen since 1986 despite
New reptiles assessed this year include the La Palma Giant Lizard
(Gallotia auaritae). Found on the Canary Island of La Palma and
thought to have become extinct in the last 500 years, it was
rediscovered last year and is now listed as Critically Endangered.
The Cuban Crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) is another Critically
Endangered reptile, moved from Endangered because of population
declines caused by illicit hunting for its meat and its skin, which
is used in clothing.
The Dow Jones Index of biodiversity
The IUCN Sampled Red List Index (SRLI) is a new initiative of the
IUCN Red List, developed in collaboration with the Zoological Society
of London. It is set to revolutionize our understanding of the
conservation status of the world’s species.
The approach takes a randomized sample of species from a taxonomic
group to calculate the trends in extinction risk within that group,
in much the same way that an exit poll from a polling station can be
used to calculate voting trends. This means that it is possible to
track the fate of these species, in the same way as the Dow Jones
Index tracks the movement of the financial markets.
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™ Although species coverage on
the IUCN Red List has increased in number each year, assessments have
in general been restricted to the better known species groups such as
birds and mammals. As a consequence, until recently the conservation
status of less than four percent of the world’s described
biodiversity has been known.
It can no longer be considered appropriate to base conservation
decisions on such a restricted subset of species and the SRLI, which
is more representative of global biodiversity, can be used to provide
a broader picture.
“We are now emerging from the dark ages of conservation knowledge,
when we relied on data from a highly restricted subset of species,”
says Dr Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at the
Zoological Society of London (ZSL). “In the future we will expand the
scope of our species knowledge to include a far broader range of
groups, thus informing and assisting policy makers in a hugely more
objective and representative manner.”
Designed to broaden the types of species covered in the IUCN Red
List, the SRLI uses a sample of at least 1,500 species from selected
groups to show trends in extinction risk. All the world’s birds,
amphibians and mammals have now been assessed for the IUCN Red List.
The first results from the SRLI are revealed this year and include
results for reptile species, giving us a clearer indication of the
status of terrestrial vertebrates, as well as other less well-known
groups such as freshwater crabs.
One of the newly assessed freshwater crab species, the Purple Marsh
Crab (Afrithelphusa monodosa) from West Africa, was almost completely
unknown to science until recently. The first living specimen was
found in 2005 and it has been listed as Endangered because of habitat
disturbance and deforestation from agriculture in all parts of the
Upper Guinea forest.
In the future the SRLI will sample other lesser-known groups such as
beetles, molluscs, mushrooms, lichens and plant species like mosses
and liverworts, and flowering plants. Over the coming years this new
approach, which could be considered the Dow Jones Index for
biodiversity, will enable us to build a clearer picture of the status
of all the world’s species, not just the furry and feathered.
“Over the years, the rigour of the IUCN Red List process has built it
into the ‘global gold standard’ for monitoring the conservation
status and trends of species and the threats they face worldwide,”
says Dr Holly Dublin, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission
(SSC). “The SSC is the largest and oldest IUCN Commission, its
members are proud to contribute their knowledge and expertise to
delivering this amazing conservation tool to the world."
To help IUCN in its fight against the extinction crisis, donate now.
Quotes from partner organizations
• “No other tool is as valuable for conservation as the Red List,
which provides scientists and decision makers with an important set
of information, freely available to the public, to improve the
effectiveness of our conservation efforts,” says Dr. Russell
Mittermeier, Chair of IUCN's Primate Specialist Group and president
of Conservation International. • “Reliable data are the foundation
for conservation planning that hopes to drive effective conservation
action on the most endangered species and sites,” says Prof. Luigi
Boitani, Sapienza Università di Roma. “For the first time, good data,
contributed and validated by the best experts on Earth, show the
patterns and extent of the pressures on the viability of mammal
species. This trend is particularly dramatic for Southeast Asia which
suffers from increasing human activities, deforestation being the
major issue.” • “This assessment establishes a platform from which
all future conservation efforts can be measured,” said Dr. Andrew
Smith, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. “It
captures data on the mammal fauna of the world in a unique database
that has been structured to highlight conservation, and which is
designed to be a living database to incorporate future data and
trends on mammals. This effort will hopefully spur greater attention
on the conservation of mammals and the habitats they occupy, for the
benefit of all biodiversity.” • “These mammal data represent the best
in collaboration among academic researchers and
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™ conservationists, because
they bring to bear the best science on the status of the world’s
mammals, placing it directly into the hands of the people who will
effect conservation action in the field,” Dr. Thomas Lacher,
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University.
• “This massive tabulation of the locations and often precarious
situations of the Earth's mammal species spotlights our need for an
increased understanding of the regional changes that are the ultimate
challenge to the survival of many of these incredible creatures,”
says Dr. Thomas C. Skalak, Vice President for Research, University of
For information about more species on this year’s IUCN Red List
please visit www.iucn.org/redlist and www.iucnredlist.org
For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
• Sarah Horsley, IUCN Media Relations Officer, m +34 600 906 822, m
+41 79 528 3486, e sarah.horsley at iucn.org
• Carolin Wahnbaeck, IUCN Media Relations Officer, m +34 600 919 620,
m +41 79 858 87593, e carolin.wahnbaeck at iucn.org
• Helen Boulden, IUCN Species Programme, m +34 600 906 742 e
helen.boulden at iucn.org
For high resolution photos and case studies on species please visit:
www.iucn.org/redlist For 2 minute video B roll prepared by Arkive
(www.arkive.org) please visit: www.iucn.org/redlist
• The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies species
according to their extinction risk. It is a searchable online
database containing the global status and supporting information on
45,000 species. Its primary goal is to identify and document the
species most in need of conservation attention and provide an index
of the state of biodiversity.
• The IUCN Red List threat categories are the following, in
descending order of threat:
o Extinct or Extinct in the Wild;
o Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable: species
threatened with global extinction;
o Near Threatened: species close to the threatened thresholds or that
would be threatened without ongoing specific conservation measures;
o Least Concern: species evaluated with a low risk of extinction;
o Data Deficient: no assessment because of insufficient data.
• Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct): This is not a new Red
List category, but is a flag developed to identify those Critically
Endangered species that are in all probability already Extinct but
for which confirmation is required (for example, through more
extensive surveys being carried out and failing to find any
• Major analyses of the IUCN Red List are produced every four years.
These were produced in 1996, 2000 and 2004. The 2008 Review of the
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is available from:
• Funding for the assessment of the world’s mammals was provided by
the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the
world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and
development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing
field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs,
the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop
policy, laws and best practice.
The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is
a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO
member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and
experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over
1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in
THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES™
NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are
located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
About the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Species
The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six
volunteer commissions with a global membership of 7,000 experts. SSC
advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and
scientific aspects of species conservation and is dedicated to
securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into
the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.
The IUCN Species Programme supports the activities of the IUCN
Species Survival Commission and individual Specialist Groups, as well
as implementing global species conservation initiatives. It is an
integral part of the IUCN Secretariat and is managed from IUCN’s
international headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. The Species
Programme includes a number of technical units covering Species Trade
and Use, the Red List Unit, Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments Unit,
(all located in Cambridge, UK), and the Global Biodiversity
Assessment Unit (located in Washington DC, USA).
About Conservation International (CI)
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science,
economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's
richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity
hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine
ecosystems. With headquarters in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan
area, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more
information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.
About the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an
international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our
key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs
ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research
in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field
conservation in over thirty countries worldwide. www.zsl.org
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