"Future generations will undoubtedly wonder if we were ignorant, incompetent or both"

The latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows worrying declines for freshwater shrimps, cone snails and the Yangtze Finless Porpoise. The Santa Cruz Pupfish, a lizard known as the Cape Verde Giant Skink and a species of freshwater shrimp have been declared Extinct.

With this update, 4,807 species have been added to The IUCN Red List bringing the total of assessed species to 70,294, of which 20,934 are threatened with extinction.

The Yangtze Finless Porpoise, one of the world’s few remaining freshwater cetaceans, has been declining by more than 5% annually since the 1980s and it has been assessed as Critically Endangered. Increasing threats to these porpoises include illegal fishing, intense vessel traffic, sand mining and pollution.

Prof. Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL said: “The Baiji (a unique freshwater dolphin) only recently went extinct on the Yangtze River. If we now lose the Yangtze Finless Porpoise, future generations will undoubtedly wonder if we were ignorant, incompetent or both.”

The White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) – a member of the pig family found in Central and South America - has declined by 89% in Costa Rica and 84% in Mexico and Guatemala and is now listed as Vulnerable. Hunting and habitat loss explain some of the decline but many cases of mysterious disappearance of the species have been documented in several regions with disease suspected to be the primary cause.

Three species have been declared Extinct. Last seen in 1912, the Cape Verde Giant Skink (Chioninia coctei) – a lizard that was restricted to a single island and two smaller islets – was driven to extinction by introduced rats and cats. The Santa Cruz Pupfish (Cyprinodon arcuatus) – once found in the Santa Cruz River basin in Arizona – is now Extinct due to water depletion, and the freshwater shrimp Macrobrachium leptodactylus was a victim of habitat degradation and urban development.

Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission said “Once again, an update of the IUCN Red List provides us with some disturbing news,” says. “However, there are instances of successes. For example, increased survey efforts in Costa Rica have uncovered new subpopulations of Costa Rica Brook Frog and Green-eyed Frog. Sadly, much more needs to be done as the overall trend to extinction continues in many species.”

More news from ZSL

Sunda pangolin by Dan Challender

ZSL has announced a two-year international Pangolin Conservation Initiative, taking place in Cameroon, Thailand and China.

A Chinese Pangolin

Radio-tagged pangolins released into the wild with support from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are providing information to help with the...

Beach plastics. Image (c) Kirsty Richards.

ZSL has teamed up with Selfridges to tackle the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.