22,000 Species Are Now Facing Extinction, Conservationists Say
Conservationists named 22,413 out of 76,199 species of plants and animals surveyed as at risk for extinction, according to the annual update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, released this week. In the past year alone, 33 species have been declared extinct. The update points to pressures from activities like fishing, logging, mining and agriculture as the main drivers for species loss.
The list, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, is considered the world's foremost inventory of the conservation status of species.
"Each update of the IUCN Red List makes us realize that our planet is constantly losing its incredible diversity of life, largely due to our destructive actions to satisfy our growing appetite for resources," says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre.
Here are some of the species who have been named this year:
Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis)
The highly-valued tuna species was moved from the "Least Concern" category to "Vulnerable," meaning that it's now in danger of extinction. Sushi markets, mainly in Asia, drive the high demand for the species.
American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)
Now listed as endangered, the American eel faces serious threats from climate change, pollution, parasites, loss of habitat and poaching.
Black Grass-dart Butterfly (Ocybadistes knightorum)
For its first time on the list, the Black Grass-dart Butterfly, found only in Australia, shot straight up to the endangered listing. The species is threatened by invasive weeds and habitat loss from coastal development.
Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. "Kaputar")
The mountain-dwelling Australian species has been named endangered, facing severe threats from climate change and habitat loss. Pressure from the invasion of feral pigs to its habitat has only worsened its chances.
This tiny, rare snail, only discovered this year in Gunung Kanthan, Malaysia, shot to the critically endangered category. In the hopes of helping it escape extinction, scientists named the species after the mining company Lafarge, which is aiming to mine in much of its habitat.
Chinese Pufferfish (Takifugu chinensis)
Having declined by 99.99 percent over the past 40 years due to overexploitation, the Chinese pufferfish is now listed as critically endangered. It is highly sought for sushi markets in Japan, though it is one of the world's most poisonous fish.