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Triboniophorus. Credit: Michael Murphy

Latest IUCN Red List released at World Parks Congress

Posted on: 19.11.14 (Last edited) 19 November 2014

The world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant, animal and fungi species shows biodiversity at risk.

The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has been released at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia.

The report states that fishing, logging, mining, agriculture and other activities that satisfy our growing appetite for natural resources are threatening the diversity of life, with more species at risk of extinction.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the IUCN Red List includes 76,199 assessed species, 22,413 of which are threatened with extinction. As nearly half of the newly assessed species occur within protected areas, the IUCN is calling for better management of these places to stop further biodiversity decline.

The American eel is a victim of the Asian food market, and is now listed as Endangered. Credit: Clinton & Charles Robertson

The American eel is a victim of the Asian food market, and is now listed as Endangered. Credit: Clinton & Charles Robertson.

Dr Tony Whitten, Asia-Pacific Regional Director at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Cave Invertebrates Specialist Group is attending the World Parks Congress, and stressed the importance of the report on a global scale.

“The IUCN Red List is one of the most useful tools in conservation. The inclusion of a species on the IUCN Red List can be hugely significant. Many governments base their lists of nationally protected species on it, and the inclusion of a species can give its habitat or location the necessary attention to address the threats it faces.”

The Red List of Threatened Species shows that the Pacific bluefin tuna, Chinese pufferfish, American eel, Chinese cobra and an Australian butterfly are now all threatened with extinction. It also highlights several species that have been impacted by habitat destruction, including all 66 threatened chameleon species.

The Pacific blue tuna is now threatened with extinction. Credit: Randy Wilder/Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Pacific bluefin tuna is now threatened with extinction. Credit: Randy Wilder/Monterey Bay Aquarium.

In addition, two species have been declared Extinct due to habitat destruction. Plectostoma sciaphilum, a snail known from a single limestone hill in Peninsular Malaysia is now listed as Extinct as a result of the hill being entirely destroyed by limestone quarrying by a cement company, with the future of several other species in the region uncertain for similar reasons.

Dr Whitten is urging stronger commitment from these companies to prevent further extinctions.

“While attention is often drawn to the big charismatic, iconic species threatened with extinction – the IUCN Red List also highlights the vulnerability of the species less known, but equally vital to the continuation of life on Earth, such as this tiny snail from Malaysia.

“I abhor the idea of extinctions resulting from deliberate ignorance. A species is a species and we are morally bound to protect them.” Dr Whitten also warned that, “The demise of the Malaysian snail is merely one example of the damage being done by the extractive industry. This is a global issue.”

Tony Whitten at World Parks Congress.Credit: Stephanie O'Donnell

Tony Whitten at World Parks Congress. Credit: Stephanie O'Donnell.

The IUCN’s Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant, animal and fungi species. Although not all of the world’s species have been assessed, The Red List provides a useful snapshot of what is happening to species today and highlights the urgent need for conservation action.

Written by
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Ally Catterick

Ally worked in media management and PR for clients including comedians Eddie Izzard and Ed Byrne before becoming Publicity Manager for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Strategy and communications for conservation organisation Greening Australia and her role as Unit and Company Publicist for production company Roving Enterprises followed, until she was introduced to Fauna & Flora International (FFI) upon their arrival in Australia in 2008. Ally became a founding board member – until moving to the UK to become the organisation's Communications Manager. Ally is now FFI's Deputy Director of Communications and oversees all communications for FFI globally.

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While attention is often drawn to the big charismatic, iconic species threatened with extinction, the IUCN Red List also highlights the vulnerability of the species less known, but equally vital to the continuation of life on Earth.

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