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IUCN: 22,784 Plant & Animal Species Now Threatened by Extinction

posted: 06/24/15
by: Danny Clemens
Guadalupe fur seal
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The Guadalupe Fur Seal has rebounded from the brink of extinction -- twice.
Travis Cooper/thinkstock

An update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List, which identifies plant and animal species' risk of extinction, brings mixed news: nearly 30% of all assessed species are threatened with extinction. Many species have, however, shown remarkable rebounds from the brink of extinction.

The Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) was believed to have gone extinct twice in recent history, largely due to overhunting (the seal's fur is highly valued). Due in large part to conservation legislation, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the species' population has rebounded from 200 to approximately 20,000 in the past 60 years. It has been reclassified as Least Concern, a noteworthy comeback.

Similarly, the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) population has tripled in the past decade. "Intensive conservation" programs have helped the lynx rebound after six consecutive decades of staggering population declines.

"This is fantastic news for the Iberian Lynx, and excellent proof that conservation action really works," remarked the IUCIN's Urs Breitenmoser. "However, the job is far from finished and we must continue our conservation efforts to secure future range expansion and population growth of the species."

Habitat loss affects 85% of all species evaluated by the organization. As tourism encroaches increasingly upon their habitat, two species of crab (Karstama balicum and Karstama emdi) have become Critically Endangered. A 59% decline in coral reef habitats spells bad news for Caribbean marine wildlife, including the Dwarf Pygmy Goby (Pandaka pygmaea) and Lionfish (Pterois volitans).

Thankfully, no new species have been confirmed extinct, although 14 plants are now considered to be possibly extinct.

Click here for more information from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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