Updated Red List: 23,000 Species Near Extinction

“This update is a wake-up call, reminding us that our natural world is becoming increasingly vulnerable.”


Last week the world was shocked when news surfaced of the African elephant’s potential demise within the next decade. (Did you miss it? Read about it here).

And this week, updated numbers on the recorded amount of animals that are threatened to be extinct in the near future have been shared – and the statistics are staggering.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) updated Red List of Threatened Species, of 77,340 assessed species, one-third are in danger of extinction. 

“This update is […] a wake-up call, reminding us that our natural world is becoming increasingly vulnerable,” the IUCN said in a release. “The international community must urgently step up conservation efforts if we want to secure this fascinating diversity of life that sustains, inspires and amazes us every day.”

Seeking to convey the power of awareness and preventative action, the Iberian Lynx was cited as a positive case. Thanks to conservative efforts, the endangered species climbed from 52 in 2002 to 156 ten years later. But still, the update states that 22,784 other species are threatened with extinction.

Most are in danger due to the destruction of habitat, while illegal trading and invasive species are also contributing factors. Another emerging threat comes from the bone and body part trade, which is used for traditional medicine.

Credit: LATimes.com

Credit: LATimes.com

IUCN shares that while no new species have yet been declared extinct, 14 have been recorded as critically endangered or possibly extinct. Furthermore, while the report doesn’t directly blame humans, other scientists aren’t as restrictive with their opinion.

“It is encouraging to see several species improve in status due to conservation action,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “However, this update shows that we are still seeing devastating losses in species populations. The IUCN Red List is the voice of biodiversity telling us where we need to focus our attention most urgently – this voice is clearly telling us that we must act now to develop stronger policy and on-the-ground conservation programmes to protect species and halt their declines.”

What are some ways you can help ‘be the change’ and protect these species? 

  1. Be mindful of your choices and your carbon footprint; for example, unplug electronics when not in use, take shorter showers, flush the toilet only when necessary, and eat a plant-based diet which requires less water to sustain.
  2. Walk, run, skip, or bike instead of driving as often as possible
  3. Purchase and consume foods which have been sourced ethically and sustainably. For example, forgo supporting food brands like Nutella, which France deemed to be ‘bad for the environment’ due to palm oil production, or opt for fair-trade, organic coffee which supports sustainable farmers.

Share your tips and thoughts in the comments section below.

This article (Updated Red List: 23,000 Species Near Extinction) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com.

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