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3 November 2009

The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that 17,291 species out of the 47,677 assessed species are threatened with extinction.

The results reveal 21 percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of all known amphibians, 12 percent of all known birds, 28 percent of reptiles, 37 percent of freshwater fishes, 70 percent of plants, and 35 percent of invertebrates assessed so far are under threat.

“The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting,” says Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.

The brown mudfish, found only in New Zealand, has been moved from 'near threatened' up to 'vulnerable' as it has disappeared from many areas in its range.

There are now 3,120 freshwater fishes on the IUCN Red List, an increase of 510 species from last year. Although there is still a long way to go before the status all the world’s freshwater fishes is known, 1,147 of those assessed so far are threatened with extinction.

The brown mudfish Neochanna apoda, found only in New Zealand, has been moved from 'near threatened' up to 'vulnerable' as it has disappeared from many areas in its range.

Approximately 85-90 percent of New Zealand's wetlands have been lost or degraded through drainage schemes, irrigation and land development.

"Creatures living in freshwater have long been neglected.  This year we have again added a large number of them to the list and are confirming the high levels of threat to many freshwater animals and plants ... there is now an urgency to pursue our effort but most importantly to start using this information to move towards a wise use of water resources,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, deputy head of the IUCN Species Programme.

“This year’s IUCN Red List makes for sobering reading”, said Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of the IUCN Red List Unit.  “These results are just the tip of the iceberg.  We have only managed to assess 47,663 species so far; there are many more millions out there which could be under serious threat.”

Above: The brown mudfish Neochanna apoda is now listed as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  Copyright © Stephen Moore
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The status of the Australian grayling Prototroctes maraena, has improved as a result of conservation efforts.  Now 'near threatened' as opposed to 'vulnerable', the population has recovered thanks to fish ladders over dams to allow migration, enhanced riverside vegetation and education of fishermen, who face heavy penalties if found with this species.

Of the world’s 5,490 mammals, 79 are 'extinct' or 'extinct in the wild', with 188 'critically endangered', 449 'endangered' and 505 'vulnerable'.

The Eastern voalavo Voalavo antsahabensis appears on the IUCN Red List for the first time in the 'endangered' category. This rodent, endemic to Madagascar, is confined to montane tropical forest and is under threat from slash-and-burn farming.

There are now 1,677 reptiles on the IUCN Red List, with 293 added this year. In total, 469 are threatened with extinction and 22 are already 'extinct' or 'extinct in the wild'.

The 165 endemic Philippine species new to the IUCN Red List include the Panay monitor lizard Varanus mabitang, which is 'endangered'.  This highly-specialized monitor lizard is threatened by habitat loss due to agriculture and logging and is hunted by humans for food.

The sail-fin water lizard Hydrosaurus pustulatus enters in the 'vulnerable' category and is also threatened by habitat loss. Hatchlings are heavily collected both for the pet trade and for local consumption.

Of the 12,151 plants on the IUCN Red List, 8,500 are threatened with extinction, with 114 already 'extinct' or 'extinct in the wild'.

The Queen of the Andes Puya raimondii has been reassessed and remains in the 'endangered' category. Found in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, it only produces seeds once in 80 years before dying.  Climate change may already be impairing its ability to flower and cattle roam freely among many colonies, trampling or eating young plants.

There are now 7,615 invertebrates on the IUCN Red List this year, 2,639 of which are threatened with extinction.  Scientists added 1,360 dragonflies and damselflies, bringing the total to 1,989, of which 261 are threatened.

The giant jewel Chlorocypha centripunctata, classed as 'vulnerable', is found in southeast Nigeria and southwest Cameroon and is threatened by forest destruction.

Scientists also added 94 molluscs, bringing the total number assessed to 2,306, of which 1,036 are threatened.  All seven freshwater snails from Lake Dianchi in Yunnan Province, China, are new to the IUCN Red List and all are threatened. The main threats are pollution, introduced fish species and over-harvesting.

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Archey's frog Leiopelma archeyi is one of most threatened frogs in the world, listed as 'critically endangered' on the IUCN Red List, and 'nationally critical' on the 2005 New Zealand Threat Classification System. It is only found at two places, on the Coromandel Peninsula, and in the Whareorino Conservation Area east of Moeatoa, King Country. Both areas are infected with chytrid fungus.
Photo Crown Copyright © Department of Conservation

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Amphibians in danger of extinction ... the most threatened group .....

The IUCN Red List shows that 1,895 of the planet’s 6,285 amphibians are in danger of extinction, making them the most threatened group of species known to date.

Of these, 39 are already 'extinct' or 'extinct in the wild', 484 are 'critically endangered', 754 are 'endangered' and 657 are 'vulnerable'.

The Kihansi spray toad Nectophrynoides asperginis has moved from 'critically endangered' to 'extinct in the wild'.  The species was only known from the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania, where it was formerly abundant with a population of at least 17,000.

Its decline is due to the construction of a dam upstream of the Kihansi Falls that removed 90 percent of the original water flow to the gorge.

The fungal disease chytridiomycosis was probably responsible for the toad’s final population crash.  The fungus also affected the Rabb’s fringe-limbed treefrog Ecnomiohyla rabborum, which enters the Red List as 'critically endangered'.  It is known only from central Panama.

In 2006, the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was reported in its habitat and only a single male has been heard calling since.  This species has been collected for captive breeding efforts but all attempts have so far failed.

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