IUCN Species Survival Commission

Gland, Switzerland

IUCN Species Survival Commission

Gland, Switzerland
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AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global Wildlife Conservation today embarks on the first phase of the Search for Lost Species, the largest-ever global quest to find and protect species that have not been seen in the wild in decades. The campaign will work with local partners to send scientific expeditions around the world to some of the most remote and uncharted wild places on Earth in search of 25 “most wanted” species. These species represent flagships for conservation. The list of top 25 “most wanted” species spans across groups of wildlife and geography and includes the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo, last seen in 1928 in Indonesia and deemed a “zoo-geographical mystery;” the pink-headed duck, with its bright-pink plumage, last seen in 1949 in Myanmar; the Fernandina Galápagos tortoise, last seen in 1906 on the Galápagos’s youngest and least-explored island; the bullneck seahorse from Australia, a tiny seahorse never before seen in the wild; and a colorful tree-climbing freshwater crab from the Upper Guinea forest block last seen in 1955. Collectively the top 25 species have not been seen in more than 1,500 years. “These species include quirky, charismatic animals and plants that also represent tremendous opportunities for conservation,” said Robin Moore, GWC communications director and conservation biologist. “The rediscovery of any of these elusive species will help unlock its mysteries, providing us with the valuable information we need to understand and best conserve the species, its habitat and the wildlife that share its habitat. While we’re not sure how many of our target species we’ll be able to find, for many of these forgotten species this is likely their last chance to be saved from extinction.” While there is no standard definition of what constitutes a “lost” species, the top 25 flagship species have not been seen since before 2007 and are listed in descending order of threat as critically endangered (possibly extinct), critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or data deficient by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. With the help of more than 100 of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Specialist Groups, GWC compiled a total list of more than 1,200 species considered lost across more than 160 countries. The definition of “lost” varied by taxa. The list of all 1,200 lost species is also available to the public to submit additional nominations and to launch searches for species on this broader list, or to report an observation on iNaturalist. “Expeditions for lost species are going to take scientists across the planet from the dark depths of the ocean to the bottom of rushing freshwater rivers, from the lush jungles of the tropics, to the seemingly barren wastelands of the desert,” said Don Church, GWC president and director of conservation. “The hope that we can preserve as much of Earth’s beauty and wonder as possible will drive the adventurers to overcome the elements, logistical mishaps and the race against time.” The first phase of the Search for Lost Species will include raising funds for expeditions to launch this fall, with a fundraising goal of $500,000. GWC will be seeking corporate sponsorships, individual donations and partners to support the expeditions. These efforts include fundraising at events in Austin and New York City this month and an auction of Lost Species artwork, including a painting of the pink-headed duck created by artist James Prosek specifically in support of the initiative. The Search for Lost Species has already received support from close GWC partner Turtle Conservancy and artist Alexis Rockman, who has captured the beauty of each of the 25 top species—even those where no photos or sketches exist—for the campaign. “We have been amazed by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to the concept of the Search for Lost Species initiative,” said Lindsay Renick Mayer, GWC’s associate director of communications. “We’re clearly in need of some good news for wildlife and are certain that the stories of adventure and hope that emerge from this campaign will provide a powerful antidote to the despair that today dominates headlines about the future of our world’s wildlife and wildlands.” The global search begins at http://lostspecies.org/. [NOTE: Starting April 19, http://lostspecies.org will be a basic landing page only with information about the Search for Lost Species. Lostspecies.org will transform into a comprehensive website in the months to come.] Artwork: Lost Species artwork by Alexis Rockman Download the full Search for Lost Species press kit Austin-based Global Wildlife Conservation envisions a thriving Earth where all life flourishes. GWC conserves the diversity of life on Earth by preserving wildlands, restoring wildlife and engaging with global guardians. Driven by science, GWC maximizes its impact through conservation solutions in research and exploration, land purchase and protected area establishment, protected area management, poaching prevention, and capacity building. Learn more at www.globalwildlife.org

Karesh W.B.,EcoHealth Alliance | Karesh W.B.,IUCN Species Survival Commission | Karesh W.B.,Working Group on Wildlife Diseases | Dobson A.,Princeton University | And 14 more authors.
The Lancet | Year: 2012

More than 60% of human infectious diseases are caused by pathogens shared with wild or domestic animals. Zoonotic disease organisms include those that are endemic in human populations or enzootic in animal populations with frequent cross-species transmission to people. Some of these diseases have only emerged recently. Together, these organisms are responsible for a substantial burden of disease, with endemic and enzootic zoonoses causing about a billion cases of illness in people and millions of deaths every year. Emerging zoonoses are a growing threat to global health and have caused hundreds of billions of US dollars of economic damage in the past 20 years. We aimed to review how zoonotic diseases result from natural pathogen ecology, and how other circumstances, such as animal production, extraction of natural resources, and antimicrobial application change the dynamics of disease exposure to human beings. In view of present anthropogenic trends, a more effective approach to zoonotic disease prevention and control will require a broad view of medicine that emphasises evidence-based decision making and integrates ecological and evolutionary principles of animal, human, and environmental factors. This broad view is essential for the successful development of policies and practices that reduce probability of future zoonotic emergence, targeted surveillance and strategic prevention, and engagement of partners outside the medical community to help improve health outcomes and reduce disease threats.

Morse S.S.,Columbia University | Morse S.S.,University of California at Davis | Mazet J.A.K.,University of California at Davis | Woolhouse M.,University of Edinburgh | And 7 more authors.
The Lancet | Year: 2012

Most pandemics-eg, HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, pandemic influenza-originate in animals, are caused by viruses, and are driven to emerge by ecological, behavioural, or socioeconomic changes. Despite their substantial effects on global public health and growing understanding of the process by which they emerge, no pandemic has been predicted before infecting human beings. We review what is known about the pathogens that emerge, the hosts that they originate in, and the factors that drive their emergence. We discuss challenges to their control and new efforts to predict pandemics, target surveillance to the most crucial interfaces, and identify prevention strategies. New mathematical modelling, diagnostic, communications, and informatics technologies can identify and report hitherto unknown microbes in other species, and thus new risk assessment approaches are needed to identify microbes most likely to cause human disease. We lay out a series of research and surveillance opportunities and goals that could help to overcome these challenges and move the global pandemic strategy from response to pre-emption.

News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new University of Florida study. The paper appears today in the journal Science. "We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems," said study lead author Brett Scheffers, an assistant professor in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation in UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Genes are changing, species' physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean." During this research, Scheffers, a conservation ecologist, collaborated with a team of researchers from 10 countries, spread across the globe. They discovered that more than 80 percent of ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of responses to climate change. "Some people didn't expect this level of change for decades" said co-author James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia. "The impacts of climate change are being felt with no ecosystem on Earth being spared." Many of the impacts on species and ecosystems affect people, according to the authors, with consequences ranging from increased pests and disease outbreaks, unpredictable changes in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields. But research on these impacts also leads to hope. "Many of the responses we are observing today in nature can help us determine how to fix the mounting issues that people face under changing climate conditions," Scheffers said. "For example, by understanding the adaptive capacity in nature, we can apply these same principles to our crops, livestock and aquacultural species." "Current global climate change agreements aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Wendy Foden, co-author and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Climate Change Specialist Group. "We're showing that there are already broad and serious impacts from climate change right across biological systems."

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the study estimates that lion numbers in West and Central Africa are declining sharply and are projected to decline a further 50% in the next two decades without a major conservation effort. Lion numbers are also declining, albeit less dramatically, in East Africa, long considered the main stronghold of the species. The study also shows that almost all lion populations that historically numbered at least 500 individuals are in decline. A team of scientists from global wild cat conservation organisation Panthera, Oxford University's WildCRU, Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, IUCN Species Survival Commission Cat Specialist Group, and the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota estimated the trajectory of lion populations by compiling and analysing regional population trend data for 47 different lion populations across Africa. The analysis showed that whereas most lion populations in West, Central, and East Africa are declining, increases in lion populations occurred in four southern countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Lead author Dr Hans Bauer of WildCRU said: 'These findings clearly indicate that the decline of lions can be halted, and indeed reversed as in southern Africa. Unfortunately, lion conservation is not happening at larger scales, leading to a vulnerable status of lions globally. In fact, the declines in many countries are quite severe and have enormous implications. 'If resources for wild lands cannot keep pace with mounting levels of threat, the flagship species of the African continent may cease to exist in many countries.' Globally, lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, though the species is considered to be Critically Endangered in West Africa. The results of this study reaffirm the lion's conservation status in West Africa and further suggest that regional assessments yield a more accurate picture of lion populations than do global assessments. Based on the data, the authors recommend that the lion be regionally uplisted to Endangered in Central and East Africa, while populations in southern Africa meet the criteria for Least Concern. Dr Luke Hunter, President and Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera and a co-author, said: 'We cannot let progress in southern Africa lead us into complacency. Many lion populations are either gone or expected to disappear within the next few decades. The lion plays a pivotal role as the continent's top carnivore, and the free-fall of Africa's lion populations we are seeing today could inexorably change the landscape of Africa's ecosystems.' The authors note that conservation efforts in southern Africa are successful for a number of reasons, including low human density, significant resources, and perhaps most importantly, the reintroduction of lions in small, fenced and intensively managed and funded reserves. Dr Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera's Lion Program, said: 'If we don't address these declines urgently, and at a massive scale, the intensively managed populations in southern Africa will be a poor substitute for the freely roaming lion populations in the iconic savannahs of East Africa. In our view, that's not an option.' The study drew on the most comprehensive dataset so far compiled on the lion, which also informed the most recent Red List assessment of the species. Senior author Professor Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota, who also serves on Panthera's Scientific Council, said: 'Estimating future population trends requires sophisticated forecasting techniques, and we performed one of the most comprehensive statistical analyses of conservation status over such a large scale. The results clearly indicate the need for immediate action across most of Africa.' Explore further: Searching for the last lions in Nigeria More information: Hans Bauer et al. Lion ( ) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1500664112 Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

News Article | March 9, 2016
Site: phys.org

New research from Newcastle University, UK, University College London (UCL) and the University of Queensland, Australia, highlights the uncertainty around our global biodiversity data because of the way we record species sightings. The study explains how a lack of information about a species in a particular location doesn't necessarily mean it's not there and that recording when we don't see something is as important as recording when we do. Publishing their findings today in the academic journal Biology Letters, the team say we need to change the way we record sightings - or a lack of them - so we can better prioritise our conservation efforts in light of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Dr Phil McGowan, one of the study's authors and a Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity and Conservation at Newcastle University, said: "Where there is no recent biodiversity data from an area then we might assume a species is no longer found there, but there could be a number of other possible reasons for this lack of data. "It could be that its habitat is inaccessible - either geographically or due to human activity such as ongoing conflict - or perhaps it's simply a case that no-one has been looking for it. "Unless we know where people have looked for a particular species and not found it then we can't be confident that it's not there." To test the research, the team used the rigorously compiled database of European and Asian Galliformes - a group of birds which includes the pheasant, grouse and quail. "Our long-standing love of the Galliformes goes back hundreds of years which means we have records that are likely to be much better than for other groups of animals or plants," explains Dr McGowan. "Not only have these birds been hunted for food, but their spectacular colours made them valuable as trophies and to stock the private aviaries of the wealthy. In the late 1800s and the turn of the last century, the Galliformes were prized specimens in museum and private collections and today they are still a favourite with bird watchers." Analysing 153,150 records dating from 1727 to 2008 and covering an area from the UK to Siberia and down to Indonesia, the team found that after 1980, there was no available data at 40% of the locations where Galliformes had previously been present. The study suggests two possible scenarios. Dr Elizabeth Boakes, the study's lead author and a teaching fellow at University College London, said: "We have no evidence of populations existing past 1980 in 40% of our locations. However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. "One scenario is that populations have been lost from these areas, probably due to hunting or habitat loss. The other scenario is that the species are still locally present but that nobody has been to look for them. "Our study shows that which scenario you choose to believe makes a huge difference to measures used in conservation priority-setting such as species richness and geographic range. It's important that we make the right call and that means a big shake up in the way we currently monitor biodiversity. "We need to record what we don't see as well as what we do see and we need to be recording across much wider areas." Involving 192 countries and the EU, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. The goals include the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity which says we must at least halve and, where feasible, bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests, and halt extinction of those species we know to be under threat. "In order to start meeting these goals we must first understand exactly which organisms are close to extinction and need prioritising in order to meet this target," explains Dr McGowan, who is Co-chair of IUCN Species Survival Commission's Policy Subcommittee and a member of its Strategic Conservation Planning Subcommittee. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is a good starting point but as our research shows, it's only as accurate as the data that's been collected. "Going forward, we need to make sure we are recording when we've not seen something just as much as when we do and that's where keen and informed members of the public - such as bird watching groups - could really help us." Explore further: Count your chickens (and robins and pigeons...), urge researchers working to protect birds More information: Uncertainty in identifying local extinctions: the distribution of missing data and its effects on biodiversity measures. Elizabeth Boakes, Richard Fuller, Philip McGowan and Georgina Mace. Biology Letters 2016. rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0824

News Article | September 4, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

The cornerstones of the Chinese effort to bring back its pandas have included an intense effort to replant bamboo forests, which provide food and shelter for the bears (AFP Photo/Greg Baker) Honolulu (AFP) - Decades of conservation work in China have paid off for the giant panda, whose status was upgraded Sunday from "endangered" to "vulnerable" due to a population rebound, officials said. The improvement for the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) was announced as part of an update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the world's most comprehensive inventory of plants and animals. The latest estimates show a population of 1,864 adult giant pandas. Although exact numbers are not available, adding cubs to the projection would mean about 2,060 pandas exist today, said the IUCN. "Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase," said the IUCN's updated report. The cornerstones of the Chinese government's effort to bring back its fuzzy, black-and-white national icon have included an intense effort to replant bamboo forests, which provide food and shelter for the bears. Through its "rent-a-panda" captive breeding program, China has also loaned some bears to zoos abroad in exchange for cash, and reinvested that money in conservation efforts. "When push comes to shove, the Chinese have done a really good job with pandas," John Robinson, a primatologist and chief conservation officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told AFP. "So few species are actually downlisted, it really is a reflection of the success of conservation," he said at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the largest meeting of its kind, which drew more than 9,000 heads of state, policymakers and environmentalists to Honolulu. According to Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, the improvement was "not rocket science" but came from the hard work of controlling poaching and replanting bamboo forests. "This is something to celebrate because it is not a part of the world where we expect this to happen," Stuart told reporters at a press conference to unveil the updated Red List. Experts warned, however, that the good news for pandas could be short-lived. A warming planet, driven by fossil fuel burning, is predicted to wipe out more than one-third of the panda's bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. That means the panda population is projected to decline, and any gains realized to date could be reversed, said Carlo Rondinini, mammal assessment coordinator at the Sapienza University of Rome. "The concern now is that although the population has slowly increased -- and it is still very small -- several models predict a reduction of the extent of bamboo forests in China in the coming decades due to climate change," he told reporters. The IUCN report said China's plan to expand its conservation effort for pandas "is a positive step and must be strongly supported to ensure its effective implementation." The IUCN Red List includes 82,954 species, including both plants and animals. Almost one-third -- 23,928 -- are threatened with extinction, it said.

News Article | March 5, 2016
Site: www.treehugger.com

Prior to the discovery, fewer than 1,000 grey-shanked doucs were known to exist, making them one of the 25 most endangered primates on the planet. The gray-shanked douc (Pygathrix cinerea) is a heartbreakingly lovely creature – just look at that face. Found only in Vietnam, the poor primates have had a rough time of it. The species is listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered and is included in the organization’s listing of The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates. Poor things. Everything was fine until ol’ homo sapiens came in to rain on the parade. The main threats to the grey-shanked douc are deforestation, habitat fragmentation and hunting. Doucs fall victim to the illegal wildlife trade and are hunted for bushmeat, traditional medicine and the pet trade. What the (insert profanity here) is wrong with us? By most accounts there were thought to be fewer than 1000 individuals left, but in a wonderful turn of events, a whole host of them was discovered during a field survey by Fauna & Flora International (FFI). The find of at least 500 grey-shanked doucs in Kon Tum Province, deep in the forests of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, almost doubles the known global population of the enigmatic primate. “To discover a large population of one of Vietnam’s most rare and precious animals is truly an honor,” says Trinh Dinh Hoang, who led the survey team. Dr. Ben Rawson , FFI Country Director, says, “This really is Vietnam’s monkey; it is found nowhere else. This new population provides hope, but the species is sadly still on the brink of extinction – something that FFI is working hard to prevent.” FFI has been working in Vietnam for almost two decades focusing on conservation of Vietnam’s native primate species, working with both the government and communities. Russell A. Mittermeier, Chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Primate Specialist Group, says, “Vietnam is now considered to have 11 Critically Endangered primate species, and therefore represents a priority for conservation in Southeast Asia.” Adding, “Historical large-scale forest loss and persecution of primates for the illegal wildlife trade has resulted in the current situation requiring last-ditch conservation efforts in many cases.” But even with their numbers doubled, doucs are still listed as Critically Endangered. “It will take the combined efforts of government, local communities, civil society, scientists and donors to ensure the long-term survival of this species, but this is a step in the right direction,” added Rawson. One can hope that this isn’t the last secret cluster of endangered primates. How wonderful if whole populations had been escaping notice, hiding out in the depths of deep forests, going about their primate lives. But even if so, we still need to do everything we can to support conservation of the ones who've been counted and who are so direly threatened. Visit FFI for more on their work and how to help.

News Article | November 23, 2015
Site: phys.org

The Persian dwarf snake or Eirenis persicus lives in an area stretching from southern Turkey to the northeast of Pakistan. Mahdi Rajabizadeh, a former PhD student of Ghent University professor Dominique Adriaens, decided to investigate its biodiversity. Together with researchers from six other countries, he examined 30 male and 30 female specimens, based on extensive field expeditions and museum specimens. The scientists used advanced techniques such as geometric morphometrics, molecular phylogeny and ecological niche modeling. The research, which was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, revealed that the Persian dwarf snake is not a single species at all. It is composed of 6 different species, wrongly classified as the species Eirenis persicus. A molecular clock analysis revealed that the divergence and diversification of the E. persicus species group mainly correspond to Eocene to Pliocene orogeny events subsequent to the Arabia-Eurasia collision. The six species are Eirenis nigrofasciatus, Eirenis walteri, Eirenis angusticeps, Eirenis walteri, Eirenis mcmahoni and Eirenis occidentalis. Except for E. occidentalis, which is a completely new discovery by the researchers, these species were already described between 1872 and 1911. However, during the last half of the previous century, herpetologists considered them as a single species with some difference in color and pattern, because the overall morphology is quite similar. The findings might be important for the conservation of the snake. Mahdi Rajabizadeh is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), a science-based network of more than 10,000 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world. "Eirenis persicus was not listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", he says, "because it was regarded as a species with a great distribution range. But each of the 6 newly identified species within the Persian dwarf snakes must be put on the Red List, since each of them actually has a limited distribution." The research of Mahdi Rajabizadeh puts emphasis on the importance of taxonomy and indicates that, without sophisticated taxonomy in a changing world, we may lose species we did not identify yet. Explore further: New snake species found in a museum

News Article | September 20, 2016
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

HONOLULU, Hawaii — An update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, which assesses the extinction risk of the world’s plants, animals and fungi, was released here Sunday — and it moves a key gorilla subspecies, Congo’s Grauer’s gorilla, to “critically endangered” status. Just 3,800 Grauer’s gorilla remain — a sharp decline in numbers for the world’s largest gorilla, and one largely driven by geopolitical upheaval as the Rwandan genocide drove large numbers of refugees into the gorilla’s habitat. The sharp decline of Grauer’s gorilla meant that the larger species to which it belongs, the Eastern gorilla —which also includes the mountain gorilla — was listed as “critically endangered.” The international meeting, which convenes every four years, is the world’s largest environmental decision-making forum, bringing together heads of state and other government officials, civilians, indigenous peoples, business leaders and academics to address the world’s biggest conservation challenges. More than 8,000 delegates from 184 countries are in attendance. The IUCN uses the Red List to classify organisms according to the severity of their extinction risk; in descending order of threat, the categories are “critically endangered,” “endangered,” “vulnerable,” “near threatened” and “least concern,” The list also includes categories for extinct and data-deficient species. Of the 82,954 species assessed, more than a quarter are threatened with extinction. Arguably the biggest update to the Red List on Sunday was its report on the decline of the Grauer’s gorilla, one of two subspecies of the Eastern gorilla and the world’s largest living primate. The subspecies was moved from “endangered” to “critically endangered” after a report by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Flora & Fauna International released earlier this year, which found devastating population declines due to illegal hunting and civil unrest. John Robinson, a primatologist and chief conservation officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society, cites the Rwandan genocide as a major driver of the decline in Grauer’s gorillas. The exodus of Rwandan refugees had ripple effects: As people moved into eastern Congo, other people in the region were displaced. “Big populations ended up in some of the protected areas, which were relatively uninhabited,” Robinson said. This opened up the protected areas to artisanal mining, charcoal extraction and bushmeat hunting. Over the past 20 years, 77 percent of Grauer’s gorillas have been lost; a 2015 assessment finds that just 3,800 Grauer’s gorilla remain, compared with 16,900 in 1994. Four of the six great ape species — the Eastern gorilla, Western gorilla, Bornean orangutan and  Sumatran orangutan — are now listed as “critically endangered,” while the chimpanzee and bonobo are listed as “endangered.” And there were other dismaying updates, as well, on Sunday. The Plains zebra has moved from “least concern” to “near threatened” after a 24 percent population decline over the past 14 years — down from about 660,000 to 500,000 animals. They are found only in protected areas in many of their range countries, yet many range states still report population declines. They are threatened by hunting for their meat and skins. Three species of African antelope — bay duiker, white-bellied duiker and yellow-backed duiker — also have moved from “least concern” to “near threatened.” Populations within protected areas are relatively stable, but elsewhere they are threatened with illegal hunting and habitat loss. Koalas have moved from “least concern” to “near threatened,” as well. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, brushfires, disease and drought have all taken a toll on Australia’s favorite marsupial. While management plans are in place, they require improvements; a recent parliamentary inquiry concluded that Australia’s conservation and management strategy was largely ineffective. The latest IUCN assessment also shows that of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plants assessed, 87 percent are threatened with extinction. Thirty-eight plants have been listed as extinct, and four are listed as extinct in the wild. Invasive species, such as pigs, goats, rats and slugs, as well as non-native plants, have imperiled Hawaii’s flora, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission Hawaiian Plant Specialist Group anticipates that the remaining species to be assessed also will be highly threatened. “[The IUCN Red List] has to drive imperative and important conservation action or we will lose these species forever,” said IUCN Director General Inger Anderson. “Once they are gone, they really are gone.” Amid this bad news, there are signs of hope, as well. Two endemic Hawaiian plants thought to be extinct — Mark’s Cyanea and Hairy Wikstroemia — were rediscovered during the most recent assessment. And several other species have been down-listed, indicating that conservation actions are working. The giant panda was moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable,” as its population has grown as a result of effective forest protection and reforestation efforts by China. “We’ve kept it in the vulnerable category because there are concerns about climate change,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the Red List Unit. Bamboos are quite sensitive to climate change, and models show that 35 percent of the bamboo that pandas rely could be wiped out over the next 80 years. “All the good work done by Chinese authorities on the ground could be easily be undone by a threat which is caused by the global community, not just the Chinese,” Hilton-Taylor said. Another success story due to conservation action is the Tibetan antelope, which has moved from “endangered” to “near threatened.” After a severe population decline due to poaching in the 1980s and early 1990s, which brought the animals down from 1 million to an estimated 65,000 to 72,500, rigorous protection measures have been enacted and enforced, bringing the population back up to between 100,000 and 150,000. Two Australian species have seen an upswing, as well: the greater stick-nest Rat, which moved from “vulnerable” to “near threatened” and the bridled nailtail wallaby, which moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable.” On Saturday night, the IUCN, its Species Survival Commission and nine Red List partner institutions committed to supporting the IUCN Red List, pledging more than $10 million over the next five years toward achieving a goal of assessing 160,000 species by 2020. “Our goal is to make that IUCN Red List an even more complete barometer for life and, therefore, being a real driver for action,” Anderson said. Allie Wilkinson is an independent multimedia journalist specializing in science, technology and the environment.

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