12 Jun 2014

IUCN Red List raises more red flags for threatened species

The World Cup mascot, Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo is listed as Vulnerable on the updated IUCN Red List (Joares Adenilson May Júnior)
By Martin Fowlie

Almost 80% of temperate slipper orchids and over 90% of lemurs are threatened with extinction, according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

The mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo – remains Vulnerable as its population continues to decline.

The IUCN Red List, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, now includes 73,686 assessed species, of which 22,103 are threatened with extinction.

“The IUCN Red List is crucial not only for helping to identify those species needing targeted recovery efforts, but also for identifying key sites such as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, and the threats that species, sites and habitats face. BirdLife has been a leading partner in developing the Red List over the last few decades, and pioneered developments such as the Red List Index. We look forward to another 50 years of collaboration”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Head of Science.

The global assessment of temperate slipper orchids, occurring in North America, Europe and temperate Asia, reveals that 79% of these popular ornamental plants are threatened with extinction. This is mainly due to habitat destruction and over-collection of wild species for local and international trade, despite the fact that international trade in all species of slipper orchids is regulated.

This IUCN Red List update confirms reports that 94% of lemurs are threatened with extinction. Of the 101 surviving lemur species, 22 are Critically Endangered, including the largest of the living lemurs the Large-bodied Indri Indri indri. A total of 48 are Endangered, such as the world’s smallest primate, Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur Microcebus berthae, and 20 are Vulnerable. This makes them one of the most threatened groups of vertebrates on Earth.

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Lemurs are threatened by destruction of their tropical forest habitat in Madagascar, where political uncertainty and increasing poverty levels have accelerated illegal logging. Hunting of these animals for food has also emerged as a serious issue.

This IUCN Red List update also includes the re-assessment of the 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot, the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo Tolypeutes tricinctus. The species is believed to have declined by more than a third over the last 10 to15 years due to a 50% loss of its dry shrubland Caatinga habitat. Its status remains Vulnerable.

“Whilst with every IUCN Red List we celebrate some conservation successes, there is a long way to go between where we are now and 2020, the deadline set by nearly 200 governments to halt biodiversity loss and prevent species extinctions,” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “We simply cannot afford to miss that deadline.”

BirdLife is the IUCN Red List Authority for birds. This year’s update will be released on July 24th