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Thousands of new entries added to Red List of Threatened Species

Thousands of new entries added to Red List of Threatened Species

Image source: © @cactusmania.shop
Marta Grzeszczuk,
02.07.2024 12:30

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has released an updated version of the Red List of Threatened Species. Some species have been added due to their popularity on social media, which has driven illegal trade.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published the latest Red List of Threatened Species on 28 June. First published in 1966, the list aims to encompass all animal and plant species threatened with extinction. The most recent release includes 163,040 species, which is 6,000 more than just one year ago.

The number of endangered species is growing exponentially

The IUCN attributes the rapid increase in critically endangered species to pressures from climate change, invasive species, and various human activities such as illegal trade and the expanding infrastructure encroaching into natural habitats.

Researchers point to social media as a significant factor in the critical threat to a group of plants. The Copiapoa cacti, originally from Chile, have been highly sought after as ornamental plants, driving illegal trade. This trend has been perpetuated by social media, where enthusiasts and traders promote and sell these cacti, as reported by Euronews.

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Chilean cacti have fallen victim to social media

The report indicates that as many as 82% of these cactus species are currently at risk of extinction, a significant increase from 55% in 2013. The IUCN has attributed this to increased demand for Chilean cacti in Europe and Asia as ornamental plants. The organisation has stated that increased accessibility to the plants, facilitated by new roads and expanding residential developments in the Atacama area, has allowed smugglers and poachers involved in the trade to thrive.

Pablo Guerrero, a member of the IUCN plant group, explained: "It is easy to distinguish if copiapoa cacti have been poached or grown in a greenhouse. Poached copiapoa have a grey tone and are coated in a dusty-looking bloom that protects the plants in one of the driest deserts on Earth, whereas cultivated plants appear greener."

Species of elephants, reptiles and amphibians at risk of extinction

The 2024 Red List update highlights the Borneo Asian elephant as critically endangered. According to an IUCN analysis, it is estimated that only about 1,000 Bornean elephants remain in the wild. The population has declined dramatically over the past 75 years, primarily due to extensive logging in Borneo, which has destroyed much of their habitat.

The list also reveals a 'staggering' decline in endemic reptiles, such as the giant lizard and skink, in the Canary Islands and Ibiza due to predation by invasive snake species. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, amphibians are the most endangered class of vertebrates on Earth, with 41% of frog, toad, and salamander species threatened with extinction.

Source: euronews.com

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