Latest IUCN Red List assessments include many species impacted by trade
Cambridge, UK, 18th July 2019—IUCN has today released the latest updates to the Red List of Threatened Species. They include assessments of a wide range of fauna and flora, everything from wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes to primates, various tree species, freshwater fishes, lanternfishes, European fungi, and a variety of insects and amphibians.
Of particular interest to TRAFFIC’s work are the new insights into the status of many species affected by trade—including several primate species, Malagasy rosewood species and wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes.
The update is timely, coming as it does a few weeks ahead of the rescheduled meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, where TRAFFIC will be present.
Wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes, collectively known as rhino rays because of their elongated snouts, have the unenviable label as the most imperilled marine fish families in the world, with all but one of the 16 species assessed as Critically Endangered in today’s Red List update.
Closely related to sharks, their decline is caused by increasingly intense and essentially unregulated coastal fishing. Their meat is sold locally, while the fins are highly valued and internationally traded for shark fin soup.
To prevent losing these ray families, it is critical that governments immediately establish and enforce species protections, bycatch mitigation programmes, marine protected areas, and international trade controls. Educational initiatives focused on rhino ray identification, status, and safe-release protocols for animals captured incidentally are also urgently needed at the local level to effectively implement protections
Colin Simpfendorfer, Co-Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group.
At next month’s CITES meeting, Parties will consider proposals to list wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes in Appendix II of the Convention to afford them some level of protection from overharvesting.
Assessments of more than 5,000 tree species were also part of today’s Red List update, including updated assessments for 23 Malagasy rosewood and palissander (Dalbergia) species. The latter were heavily impacted by rampant illegal logging in Madagascar, and the country now faces issues before any legal, sustainable trade can resume, not least the thorny issue of how to manage the existing stockpiles of illegally sourced rosewood. This will be discussed at CITES, where TRAFFIC will be encouraging Parties to support Madagascar in establish the necessary governance structures and processes to ensure any resumption of rosewood trade does not trigger further illegal harvest.
Seven species of primates—six of them from West Africa—have been assessed as closer to extinction. Among them is the Roloway Monkey Cercopithecus roloway, which has moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Found only in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, their relatively large body size and the value of their meat and skin have made the species a preferred target for hunters, driving the population to a precariously low level.
The update paints a picture of widespread biodiversity erosion across a wide cross-section of fauna and flora, driven in particular by unsustainable offtake and wildlife trade.
The latest assessments come at a crucial point for nature conservation, as world governments begin the deliberations that will eventually lead to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Getting those right—including global targets on addressing illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade and the increased solutions for sustainable, legal wildlife trade—is critical to stop the current inexorable decline in biodiversity upon which all species depend for their survival—including ourselves
Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.
The latest revision being the number of species assessed by IUCN for the Red List to past 100,000: it now includes assessments for 105,732 species, of which 28,338 species are threatened with extinction.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.