Human activity threatens thousands of species with extinction: Red List

Nature and Environment

Hope for mountain gorillas

Let's start with the good news. According to the latest Red List update, the number of mountain gorillas has significantly increased. The IUCN has said the number of animals has risen from about 680 a decade ago to more than 1,000 now. Intensive conservation action such as removal of snares has contributed to the rebound of the mountain gorilla, which inhabits the Congo region's jungles.

Nature and Environment

Whales get a reprieve

Fin whales are now considered vulnerable rather than the more worrisome label of endangered. Their number has roughly doubled since the 1970s, to around 100,000 individuals, according to the IUCN. The situation of gray whales has also been upgraded — from critically endangered to endangered. Bans on commercial whaling have made a real impact on conservation.

Nature and Environment

Dampened euphoria

Yet the IUCN also issued warnings about the consequences of overfishing. For example, 13 percent of grouper species worldwide and 9 percent of the approximately 450 fish species in Lake Malawi in eastern Africa are threatened with extinction. "Depleting fish stocks are a serious concern for food security, particularly for coastal communities in developing countries," the IUCN said.

Nature and Environment

Flying fox being over-culled

In a previous Red List update, the Mauritian flying fox — an important pollinator — moved from vulnerable to endangered. The bat population fell by a whopping 50 percent from 2015 to 2016 due largely to government-implemented culling sparked by alleged damage to fruit crops. The megabat species also faces threats from deforestation, illegal hunting and an increase in cyclone activity.

Nature and Environment

Invasive species threaten Australian wildlife

Invasive species are threatening a number of unique Australian reptiles. This grassland earless dragon has shifted from vulnerable to endangered. It often falls prey to feral cats, as well as changes to the intensity and frequency of bushfires. Like most native Australian wildlife, the reptile is adapted to environmental conditions that existed before European settlement.

Nature and Environment

A precious species

Taking its name from "The Lord of the Rings" character Smeagol — aka Gollum — the precious stream toad is also on the list of species threatened with extinction. It is listed as vulnerable, largely as a result of expanding tourist resorts and complexes in its Genting Highlands habitat in Malaysia.

Nature and Environment

Junk food parrots

The population of keas, New Zealand's Bird of the Year 2017, is declining rapidly, mostly due to tourists who keep feeding the curious parrots junk food. As a result, the birds get used to trying novel food and end up eating poison bait meant to control pests such as rats, stoats, or possums, which destroy up to 60 percent of the birds' nests each year. You can see the connection, can't you?

Nature and Environment

No sand eel, no kittiwake

Black-legged kittiwakes rely on certain key prey, like sand eels. But a lack of eels to eat means breeding colonies in the North Atlantic and Pacific are struggling to feed their chicks. Globally, the species is thought to have declined by around 40 percent since the 1970s. The main cause is overfishing and alterations in the ocean due to climate change.

Nature and Environment

Fewer snowy owls than assumed

The snowy owl is vulnerable, with recent population estimates much lower than previously thought. Climate change has hit the iconic Arctic bird hard, as it has increased snowmelt and reduced the availability of rodent prey. A quarter of bird species reassessed in the Red List, including the snowy owl, have become more endangered.

Nature and Environment

Reebok namesake in danger

Five species of African antelopes — of which four were previously assessed as least concern — have been declining drastically as a result of poaching, habitat degradation and competition with domestic livestock. One of these is the gray rhebok, for which the Reebok sports brand is named.

Nature and Environment

World's largest antelope in trouble

The world's largest antelope, the giant eland — previously assessed as least concern — is also vulnerable. Its estimated global population is between 12,000 and 14,000 at most, with fewer than 10,000 mature animals. This species is declining due to poaching for bushmeat, human encroachment into protected areas and expansion of agriculture and livestock grazing.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's annual Red List assesses 97,000 species — 27,000 face extinction. Poaching, invasive pests, agriculture and climate change are driving many of them to the brink.