In the most recent update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, 14 species have been moved from the “endangered” category to the “critically endangered (possibly extinct)” category. The update illustrates the worldwide crisis facing many species around the globe in the face of habitat loss and degradation.
The IUCN’s Red List compiles data and evidence from researchers from all around the world. The list now includes information about 77,340 different species, of which 22,784 are threatened with extinction.
The list of species considered critically endangered now includes ten species of orchids found only in Madagascar, which are threatened by forest loss and illegal collection. Another species is a Magnolia tree, Magnolia emarginata, found only in Haiti, and has lost an estimated 97 percent of its forest habitat in the past century.Two species of crabs are now considered critically endangered, Karstama balicum and Karstama emdi, which are only found in a single cave in Bali. The crabs are threatened by human activity in the cave, such as tourism and frequent religious ceremonies.
While many species are in dramatic decline, no species have been moved into the “extinct” category. However, this may be due in part to the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence to prove a species has in fact disappeared. “It takes a long time of gathering negative evidence before we can say, ‘ok, that species has gone’,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN’s Red List told New Scientist.
The update does come with a few glimmers of good news. A few species that were once on the brink of extinction now have growing populations, such as the Iberian Lynx, which is no longer considered critically endangered thanks to conservation efforts.
Jane Smart, Director, IUCN’s Global Species Programme, said in a press statement that while seeing the populations of several endangered species improving, we are still at risk of losing many species overall. “We must act now to develop stronger policy and on-the-ground conservation programs to protect species and halt their declines.”