Current News

Important Notices

A campaign for carnivorous plants – IUCN Red List

17 November 2015
Support The IUCN Red List Carnivorous Plants Campaign!
Photo: Marco Uliana/Shutterstock

Carnivorous plants are in danger. Their diverse beauty and unique behaviours make them vulnerable to over-collection for the horticultural trade. Poaching and habitat fragmentation and destruction, driven largely by agriculture, logging, and mining operations, represent major threats to many species. We urgently need to gain a better understanding of their global status, and we need your help!

We have just launched a fundraising campaign to help complete the assessment of all carnivorous plants for The IUCN Red List. Only 20% of the roughly 750 carnivorous plant species have so far been assessed. With your help, we can assess them all in order to determine the global conservation status of this unique and important group to better inform conservation action and policy decisions.

“Providing accurate and up-to-date IUCN Red List conservation assessments for all carnivorous plants will be an invaluable tool for research scientists and conservationists around the globe.” – Sir David Attenborough, Patron of the IUCN SSC Carnivorous Plant Specialist Group.

Learn about the campaign here and help us spread the word!

Related links:




News Releases

New assessment highlights climate change as most serious threat to Polar Bear survival - IUCN Red List

19 November 2015
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) - Vulnerable
Photo: Alan D. Wilson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gland, Switzerland, 19 November 2015 (IUCN) – A global re-assessment of Polar Bears highlights loss of sea ice habitat due to climate warming as the single most important threat to the long-term survival of the species, according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released today by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This update also highlights habitat degradation as a main threat to many fungus species and over-fishing as the key driver of decline in marine bony fish. The IUCN Red List now includes 79,837 assessed species, of which 23,250 are threatened with extinction.

The re-assessment of the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) used the most current sea ice and sub-population data, along with computer simulation and statistical models, to project potential changes in the size of Polar Bear sub-populations due to changes in sea ice. It is the most comprehensive assessment of this data to date. The results show that there is a high probability that the global Polar Bear population will decline by more than 30% over the next 35 to 40 years. The assessment supports the current Vulnerable status of the
Polar Bear on The IUCN Red List.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) - Vulnerable. Photo: Andrew E Derocher“Based on the latest, most robust science, this assessment provides evidence that climate change will continue to seriously threaten Polar Bear survival in the future,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “Climate change impacts go far beyond this iconic species, and present a threat our planet has never faced before. Governments meeting at the climate summit in Paris later this month will need to go all out to strike a deal strong enough to confront this unprecedented challenge.”

Recent studies show that the loss of Arctic sea ice has progressed faster than most climate models had predicted, with September sea ice extent declining at a linear rate of 14% per decade from 1979 through 2011. As Polar Bears rely on sea ice to access their prey, an annual ice-free period of five months or more will cause extended fasting for the species, which is likely to lead to increased reproductive failure and starvation in some areas. According Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) - Vulnerable. Photo: Andrew E Derocherto recent sea ice projections, large regions of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago will be ice free for more than five months by the late 21st century; and in other parts of the Arctic, the five-month ice-free threshold may be reached by the middle of the 21st century. Warming Arctic temperatures could also reduce habitat and increase the incidence of disease for prey species such as ice seals, placing the Polar Bear at further risk.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) - Vulnerable. Photo: Alan D. WilsonPolar Bears are important to the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and, as apex predators, are essential to maintaining ecosystem balance in the Arctic region. Along with sea ice loss, other potential threats to the species include pollution, resource exploration and habitat change due to development. Oil development in the Arctic, for example, poses a wide range of threats, from oil spills to increased human-bear interaction.

“Whilst sea ice loss is the major threat to Polar Bears, the full range of current and potential threats must be considered in Polar Bear management plans,” says Dag Vongraven, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Polar Bear Specialist Group. Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) - Vulnerable. Photo: Alan D. Wilson“It is encouraging that Polar Bear range states have recently agreed on a Circumpolar Action Plan – the first global conservation strategy to strive for the longterm persistence of Polar Bears in the wild. IUCN is actively working with those countries, providing scientific data and advice to help implement the agreed plan in the most efficient and cohesive way possible. We truly hope that the action plan will make a difference for Polar Bear conservation.”

Twenty-nine fungi have been assessed in this update, more than doubling the number of fungi on The IUCN Red List. The main threats affecting the species are habitat loss and degradation, mostly from changing land use practices. The colourful Leptonia carnea, which has been listed as Leptonia carnea - Vulnerable. Photo: Christian SchwarzzVulnerable, is confined to the coastal redwood forest of California, USA. Changes in the Californian climate – increased droughts and reduced occurrence of fog – are impacting the habitat. Continued logging of the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) which is listed as Endangered, is another major threat to the fungus.

Fungi provide essential ecosystem services which support animals and plants. They have a symbiotic relationship with Marsh Honey Fungus (Armillaria ectypa) - Near Threatened. Photo: Tatyana Svetasheva80% of all plants and form a crucial part of the digestive system of ruminants such as sheep and cows. Fungi are also extremely important to humans as medicine and food. The antibiotic Penicillin was derived from the fungus Penicillium, and today most antibiotics and statins (commonly used to lower blood cholesterol), are fungal in origin. Fungi are also used to make bread, beer, wine, cheese and many other foods.

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) - a threat to native species in the Caribbean. Photo: Peter LiuThis IUCN Red List update also reveals that the degradation of sensitive coastal habitats, pollution, overexploitation and destructive fishing practices are putting many marine bony fishes at risk of extinction in the East Central Atlantic and Greater Caribbean regions with the invasive lionfish placing further pressure in the Caribbean The global assessment of the 1,400 marine bony fishes including both nearshore fishes and deep-sea fishes of the Eastern Central Atlantic – covering the area from Mauritania to Angola – shows that Golden Tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) - Endangered. Photo: USGS Image3% are threatened with extinction. The Roundnose Grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris), is listed as Critically Endangered due to overexploitation. In the Caribbean, 1,340 species were assessed, and of these 5% are threatened with extinction, including the Golden Tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps) which is listed as Endangered. An important commercial fishery species, it is the largest species of tilefish and can reach up to 1.25 metres in length. Its population has declined by 66% over the last 48 Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) - Vulnerable. Photo: mikethefifthyears due to overfishing.

Marine bony fishes are the largest group of fish and are both ecologically and economically important. The loss of these species would pose a serious threat to the food security and livelihoods of more than 340 million people in these regions. With the human population expected to double in the next 20 to 25 years, this new data will be used to guide fisheries management and conservation priorities in the regions, including the identification of priority sites for conservation action.

“These assessments are the first of their kind, providing Splendid Toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) - Endangered. Photo: Randall McNeelycomprehensive baseline information within a specified region, which is critical for the designation and improved management of marine protected areas and threatened marine species,” says Kent Carpenter, Manager of IUCN’s Marine Biodiversity Unit. “The data should also lead to the development of more effective initiatives to improve national and regional fisheries management to maximise conservation benefits.”

Cyanea kolekoleensis - Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). Photo: Kenneth R Wood NTBGA total of 24 newly assessed Critically Endangered species are highlighted as being possibly extinct, primarily due to threats from invasive species and habitat destruction. Haha (Cyanea kolekoleensis), a plant species native to the island of Kauai, Hawaiʻi, is listed as Possibly Extinct. Its habitat is threatened by pigs and several invasive plant species, and there have been no recorded sightings since 1998. Eleven orchid species found only in Madagascar have been listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) including Bulbophyllum tampoketsens, which is threatened due to illegal collection and deforestation. Arico Water Frog (Telmatobius pefauri) is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) because Many-flowered Grass-pink Orchid (Calopogon multiflorus) - Least Concern. Photo: NC Orchidit has not been seen since 1976. This frog is threatened by water extraction for human use and for cattle ranching; it may also be affected by cattle trampling the stream habitats according to the experts.

For more information or interviews please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations
+41 76 505 3378

Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme
+41 79 527 7221 

Examples of other species that have been added in this update

Kissing Loach (Parabotia curtus) - Critically Endangered. Photo: Tsukassa Abe Okayama / Freshwater Fish Society, LagoFreshwater fishes

Kissing Loach (Parabotia curtus), a freshwater fish from Japan, is under extreme threat from a development for a football stadium that is due to start soon.


Agaricus pattersoniae, listed as Vulnerable, is endemic to coastal central California (USA). It lives alongside the occurring in Agaricus patersonae - Vulnerable. Photo: Noah SiegelMonterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) which is also listed as Vulnerable. The fungus needs an undisturbed layer of old pine needles to survive. Habitat destruction for urban development and increasing fire frequency are the main threats.

Plants for People

Atlas Daisy (Anacyclus pyrethrum) listed as Vulnerable is found in Atlas Daisy (Anacyclus pyrethrum) - Vulnerable. Photo: Hassan RankouMorocco. It is used to treat many diseases and conditions including speech disorders, laryngitis, sickle cell anaemia, epilepsy and depression. Premature exploitation and bad collection practices of the wild species often destroy the entire plant, preventing it from growing again.

Quercus acutifolia, listed as Vulnerable, is a species of oak which is used locally as firewood and charcoal, as well as for tools, fence posts, and small-scale building and construction materials. The bark can be used medicinally for the treatment of burns. Climate change poses a major threat. A recent study (Gomez-Mendoza and Arriaga 2007) identified the species as highly vulnerable to range contractions under multiple climate scenarios, projecting declines in distribution of up to Mahe Boulder Cricket (Phalangacris alluaudi) - Critically Endangered. Photo: Axel Hochkirch41% under projections by 2050.

Rediscovered species

Mahé Boulder Cricket (Phalangacris alluaudi) was previously listed as a Possibly Extinct species. However, it was rediscovered in 2014 and is now listed as Critically Endangered.

Examples of other species that have been uplisted (conservation status is worse)

Bokiboky (Mungotictis decemlineata) - Endangered. Photo: Nick GarbuttAtacama Toad (Rhinella atacamensis) has been uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable. Endemic to Chile, this toad has undergone an estimated 35 to 40% decline over the past 10 years due to habitat loss and degradation, which has increased in recent years.

Spotted Fanaloka (Fossa fossana) has been uplisted from Near Threatened to Vulnerable. Endemic to Madagascar, this is a nocturnal species, which is restricted to primary forest areas. It is threatened by Spotted Fanoloka (Fossa fossana) - Vulnerable. Photo: Aniket Sardanadeforestation for cultivated land, and by forest degradation through selective logging and charcoal production. It is also threatened by hunting.

Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) has been uplisted from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa, it has also undergone massive population declines: in 1992, the largest subpopulation was estimated to contain between 1,500 and 3,400 tortoises, but in 2012, the entire global population was estimated to be Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) - Critically Endangered. Photo: Atherton de Villiersbetween 700 and 800. Over 90% of its original habitat has been irreversibly converted to agriculture, and populations in remaining habitat have suffered catastrophic declines from fire-induced mortality, with little indication of population recovery.

Examples of other species that have been downlisted (conservation status is better)

Hamilton’s Frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) has been downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable. The only naturally occurring Hamiltons Frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) - Vulnerable. Photo: Paddy Ryanpopulation is confined to a single rock tumble on Stephens Island (New Zealand). The total population size was previously estimated to be less than 300 mature animals. Since then, a translocated subpopulation has been successfully established on Nukuwaiata Island site. Therefore, the total population size is now estimated to be between 300 to 800 individuals, including the subpopulation in its original natural range and the translocated subpopulation, and appears to be increasing.

Other Languages:

Related Links:



SOS – Save Our Species announces first nine projects under special initiative 'SOS Lemurs'

30 October 2015
SOS Lemurs is a special initiative of SOS - Save Our Species
Photo: Natacha Bigan

Today is World Lemur Day, when we celebrate both the uniqueness and diversity of Madagascar’s lemurs - the world’s most threatened group of mammals. Today, however, with the announcement of the first nine new lemur conservation projects by SOS - Save Our Species, the future is looking that little bit brighter for these charismatic primates and the communities who depend on their survival. 

Specifically, these projects will be supporting direct conservation work in nine different priority locations while helping protect 24 threatened lemur species. This includes Aye-Ayes, Sifakas and Indris as well as many lesser known ones. In total this first phase of funding under will help protect nine Critically Endangered, nine Endangered and six Vulnerable species as classified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

The total funding allocated to these nine first projects is in excess of US$ 500,000 coming from the Global Environment Facility - one of three SOS Founding Partners along with IUCN and the World Bank - as well as a generous donation from Fondation Segré and another anonymous donor.

Critically Endangered black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) are one of the species to be supported through SOS Lemurs. Photo: Russ MittermeierThis latest chapter in the longer, wider story to save Madagascar’s unique biodiversity began when SOS Lemurs was announced in August 2015. As a special initiative of SOS - Save Our Species, coordinated by IUCN, it aligned closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan, published in 2014.

Responding to a subsequent public call for proposals, The Vulnerable Rufous-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufifrons) is another SOS Lemur species. Photo: Russ Mittermeierlocally based conservation actors submitted a variety of project applications. Those that contributed to the goals set out by that plan were shortlisted for evaluation.

Commenting on the news, Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier, Chair of the SSC Primate Specialist Group said “all of the lemurs of Madagascar are endemic. And we have a huge challenge ahead of us to ensure this unique portion of our global primate diversity survives. This is where the SOS Critically Endangered mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz) will also benefit from SOS Lemurs. Photo: Russell A. MittermeierLemurs seed funding comes in: to protect existing government areas, create new community reserves and really develop a series of livelihood opportunities for communities so they become the major advocates for lemur conservation.”

Jean-Christophe Vié, IUCN Global Species Programme Deputy Director adds, “conserving nature is not only about climate change, not only about natural Madagascar communities can become advocates for lemur conservation. Photo: Russell A. Mittermeierresources. It is also about wildlife and communities. We know we can save species by pooling resources and working together according to evidenced based science. SOS has broadly demonstrated that and with lemurs we are applying the model to one country and one group of animals”.

Lemur Action Plan identifies 30 priority sites. SOS Lemurs has more work to do. Photo: Natacha BiganMeanwhile SOS Lemurs remains open to immediate support through a match-funding campaign. All donations to SOS Lemurs received before December 31 2015 made via Global Giving USA, Global Giving UK, 1% for the Planet and the SOS website donate button will contribute directly to SOS Lemurs and will be match funded by SOS to a total of US$ 200,000.

To find out more about how to participate visit Lemurs and watch this short film about this Special Initiative:

The overall aims for SOS Lemurs is to coordinate efforts of the conservation community active on the ground in Madagascar and empower them to save lemurs from extinction while fully financing the $8 million Lemur Action Plan within a three year timeframe.

Consequently SOS continues to actively engage with public and private sector donors interested to join and leverage this partnership in subsequent funding phases.

Related links:



QuizUp “Wildlife in Crisis” topic released

30 October 2015
QuizUp Wildlife in Crisis
Photo: QuizUp

United for Wildlife, a wildlife crime-fighting coalition of major conservation organisations including IUCN, has teamed up with QuizUp, the biggest trivia game in the world, to release a conservation topic titled “Wildlife in Crisis”.

QuizUp is a multi-player trivia app in which one user competes against another during seven rounds of timed multiple-choice questions of various topics. The content for the Wildlife in Crisis topic released today was developed by IUCN with the support of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The topic covers general knowledge of and the issues facing the United for Wildlife key species: pangolins, elephants, rhinos and big cats. It also includes general questions on the illegal wildlife trade and conservation.

“We hope the topic will engage new audiences in conservation by spreading the word about how the demand for illegal wildlife products is pushing many iconic species to the brink and what is being done to conserve them,” said IUCN’s Dan Challender, who played a key role in creating the content.

Elephants. Photo: James Suter / Black Bean productionsThe popular app, developed by Icelandic start-up Plain Vanilla Games, had 20 million users as of May 2014 and over a billion matches had been played in over 197 countries by March 2014. The Wildlife in Crisis topic is available in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Spanish.

“We’re delighted to be working with QuizUp and hope that Rhinos. Photo: United for Wildlifetheir audience will find the Wildlife in Crisis topic something they can share with their friends and family, becoming advocates for conservation in the process,” said Naomi Doak, United for Wildlife Project Director.

The app can be downloaded for free here:



Conservationists warn Africa’s vultures are sliding towards extinction

29 October 2015
Bearded Vulture, Near Threatened
Photo: Marietjie Froneman

Gland, Switzerland 29 October 2015 (IUCN) – Six of Africa’s 11 vulture species – the continent’s largest and most recognisable birds of prey – are now at a higher risk of extinction, according to the latest assessment of birds for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, carried out by BirdLife International – an IUCN Red List partner.

The main causes of the drop in African vulture populations are thought to be indiscriminate poisonings, where the birds are drawn to poisoned baits, use of vulture body parts in traditional medicine, and deliberate targeting by poachers, as the presence of vultures can alert authorities to illegally killed big game carcasses.

Dr Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife International’s Africa Programme Director, said: “As well as robbing the African skies of one of their most iconic and spectacular groups of birds, the rapid decline of the continent’s vultures has profound consequences for its people – as vultures help stop the spread of diseases by cleaning up rotting carcasses.”

Lappet-faced Vultures, Endangered. Photo: Andy and Gill Swash (“However, now we are becoming aware of the sheer scale of the declines involved, there is still just enough time for conservationists to work with law-makers, faith-based organisations, government agencies and local people, to make sure there is a future for these magnificent scavengers.”

Worldwide, 40 more bird species are now classified as having a higher risk of extinction in the 2015 Red List. Helmeted Hornbill, Critically Endangered. Photo: Muhammad Alzahari (arinature photography)Besides the vultures, these include many wading shorebirds, and other iconic species like Helmeted Hornbill, Swift Parrot, Atlantic Puffin, and European Turtle-dove.

Conversely, 23 species of birds have been downgraded to lower threat categories. In some cases, this reflects a better understanding of how they are faring, but some species have undergone remarkable recoveries as a result of conservation action, including Seychelles Warbler and Chatham Petrel.

“Vultures and other birds play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” said Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “Their decline can have serious knock-on effects on other species and the many benefits provided by nature. While it is encouraging Eurasian Oystercatcher, Near Threatened. Photo: Zhang Mingto see some positive outcomes of conservation action, this update is an important wake-up call, showing that urgent efforts need to be taken to protect these species.”

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the conservation status of plant and animal species, and BirdLife International is the official authority for birds.

For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 76 505 33 78, e
Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme, m +41 79 527 72 21, e

Additional notes:

Chestnut-capped Piha, Critically Endangered. Photo: Andy and Gill Swash ( Red List changes – summary in numbers
24 bird species are now classified as having a higher risk of extinction (either Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered) in the 2015 Red List update of birds, with seven bird species being upgraded to Critically Endangered. Another 16 bird species have seen their status change from Least Concern (the lowest level of threat) to Near Threatened. 23 bird species have been downgraded to lower threat categories.

Data on The IUCN Red List website has not yet been updated. For a full list of all the changes, see:
For the new Red List assessments and factsheets, go to:

Related link:



» News Archives