800+ Species added to IUCN Threatened List
Experts have added 817 species to the threatened categories of the IUCN Red List in the latest update. Those added include 51 mammals—mostly lemurs—and over 400 plants. The new update finds that over 90 percent of lemurs and 79 percent of temperate slipper orchids are threatened with extinction.
"What was most surprising about this assessment was the degree of threat to these orchids," said Hassan Rankou, the IUCN Species Survival Commission's (SSC) Authority for the Orchid Specialist Group, "Slipper orchids are popular in the multimillion-dollar horticultural industry. Although the industry is sustained by cultivated stock, conservation of wild species is vital for its future."
Temperate slipper orchids are found in Europe, North America and temperate Asia, but have become hugely imperiled due to habitat loss and over-collecting.
As for lemurs, the new update found that a stunning 94 percent of this primate group—only found on the island of Madagascar—is at risk of extinction, making them one of the most imperiled groups on the planet. In fact, experts moved 36 species of lemur from a Data Deficient ranking (meaning there is not enough information to make a determination) to one of three threatened categories, i.e. Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. Another eight were moved from lower categories to threatened.
Still, experts say hope remains for the world's lemur species.
"Past successes demonstrate that collaboration between local communities, non-governmental organizations and researchers can protect imperiled primate species. We urgently invite all actors to join our efforts to ensure the continued existence of lemurs," said Christoph Schwitzer, Vice-Chair for Madagascar of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.
In all, 22,103 species are now listed as threatened out of the 73,686 evaluated. But over 10,000 of these remain listed as Data Deficient.
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Lemur image via Shutterstock.