The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just updated their Red List to identify three species as extinct, and nearly 21,000 at risk of disappearing forever. The Cape Verde Giant Skink, the Santa Cruz Pupfish, and the Macrobrachium leptodactylus shrimp are now officially gone, and a large percentage of conifers, cone snails, and freshwater shrimp, have all been identified as critically endangered.

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The newly revised Red List takes into consideration some of the most comprehensive reviews of the oldest and largest organisms on the planet. The IUCN looked at 70,294 of the globe’s 1.82 million known species of plants and animals to determine their risk of extinction. In their report, they added 4,807 endangered species to bring the grand total to 20,934 under threat. The update includes one of the most comprehensive studies on conifers, which shows that 34% of cone bearing plants are in need of conservation. 33 major species have recently declined, including that of the Monterey Pine and Atlas Cedar.

The researchers also took stock of the world’s freshwater shrimp, noting that 28% were in peril due to pollution, overconsumption, habitat loss, and the aquarium trade. Cone snails were assessed for the first time, and the report found 8% of their numbers in trouble. Other animals of note cited by the report were the Yangtze Finless Porpoise, whose population has been declining 5% annually since the 1980’s, and the White Lipped Peccary whose numbers in Central and South America have plummeted by 84-89%.

Richard Edwards of Wildscreen said “This latest Red List update is further evidence of our impact on the world’s threatened biodiversity. . . Further evidence that extinction is real, and that we must all act, and act now, if we are to prevent this most tragic reality for many more of the world’s species.”

The Red List acts not only as a tool for conservationists and activists, but as a warning to governments, businesses, and communities as to the consequences of natural resource exploitation. With thousands of species vulnerable to climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, and resource extraction, the web of life is becoming increasingly unstable. Humans do not exist in a vacuum, and it would be wise for the nations of the world to seriously consider the IUCN’s latest data and work towards adjusting infrastructure and behavior in order to preserve life on the planet.



Images via Wikicommons users Ram-Man and ori2uru.