List of endangered species grows worldwide

More than 45,000 species are in danger of extinction, 1,000 more than last yearaccording to an international conservation organization that attributes the increase to environmental pressures. climate changethe invasive species and human activity such as illegal trafficking and infrastructure expansion.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published his most recent on Thursday List of Threatened Species. Now in its sixtieth year, the list sounds the alarm about endangered animals and plants, but also highlights conservation success stories like that of the Iberian lynx.

The list now includes 163,400 species, an increase of about 6,000 from last year. The Copiapoa cactus, native to the Atacama coastal desert in Chile; The Bornean elephant and the giant lizard of Gran Canaria are among the threatened species, the organization said.

A social media trend as a driver of extinction

It has been a long time since the copypoa cactus They are coveted as a decorative plant, which has encouraged an amplified illegal trade on social networks, where fans and merchants promote and sell the plant.

Now, A striking 82% of species are in danger of extinctiona significant increase from 55% in 2013, according to the report.

The IUCN attributed the decline to a increase in demand for Chilean cactus in Europe and Asia as an ornamental species. Smugglers and poachers facilitate trafficking, according to the organization, after gaining greater access to the habitat with the expansion of roads and urbanization in the Acatama area.

It is easy to distinguish poached cacti from those grown in a greenhouse, explained Pablo Guerrero, a member of the IUCN plant group. “Sneaky copypoa have a gray hue and are covered in a dusty-looking fluff that protects the plants in one of the driest deserts on Earth, while cultivated plants appear greener.”

The 2024 update also highlights the Asian elephant in Borneo as an endangered species. It is estimated that There are only about 1,000 elephants left. Borneo in the wild, according to an IUCN analysis.

Their population has declined over the past 75 years, largely due to extensive deforestation in Borneo that has destroyed much of the elephants’ habitat. Other threats to the species include conflict with humans, habitat loss from agriculture and timber plantations, mining and infrastructure development, poaching, exposure to agricultural chemicals and collisions with vehicles, the organization said.

The list also revealed the “shocking” decline of endemic reptiles such as the giant lizard of Gran Canaria and the Pitiusas lizard in Ibiza because they are prey to invasive snakes.

The “greatest recovery” of a species

As a contrast, Conservation efforts have brought the Iberian lynx back from the brink of extinction and the population has gone from 62 mature specimens in 2001 to 648 in 2022 and more than 2,000 now.

Once considered the most endangered feline in the world, Its population declined by 87% and the number of fertile females decreased by more than 90% between 1985 and 2001.according to the International Society for Endangered Felines, based in Canada.

The species was revived by the restoration of its natural habitat of Mediterranean forest and scrubland, as well as by increasing the abundance of its main prey, the European rabbit. Conservation efforts also involved increasing the genetic diversity of the lynx by relocating them to new areas and breeding them in controlled environments.

Since 2010 there have been reintroduced more than 400 Iberian lynx to parts of Spain and Portugalaccording to the IUCN.

It is “the greatest recovery of a feline species ever achieved thanks to conservation,” explained Francisco Javier Salcedo Ortiz, who coordinates the conservation project, in a statement.

However, Threats persist, mainly due to variations in the rabbit population, poaching and road kill.said Salcedo Ortiz, and there is still a lot of work to ensure the survival of Iberian lynx populations.