Bornean E;ephant Endangered - IUCN Red List

ON 06/28/2024 AT 04 : 19 AM

The IUCN Red List now includes 163,040 species, of which 45,321 are threatened with extinction, surpassing the Barometer of Life goal to assess 160,000 species. The update also reveals that invasive snakes are driving endemic reptiles on the Canary Islands and Ibiza to extinction, while illegal trade and climate change threaten cacti in Chile.

Bornean elephant Endangered

The Asian elephant in Borneo is Endangered, following its first assessment as a distinct subspecies on the IUCN Red List that found there are an estimated 1,000 Bornean elephants remaining in the wild. The population has diminished over the past 75 years, initially due to extensive logging of Borneo’s forests destroying the majority of the Bornean elephants’ habitat. As the human population has rapidly expanded in Sabah, elephants are entering human-dominated landscapes more often in search of food, where they may cause damage to crops and face retribution killing. Further habitat loss from agriculture (especially palm oil), timber plantations, mining, and major infrastructure projects such as the Pan Borneo Highway threaten the future of Bornean elephants. Poaching for ivory, accidental ingestion of agrochemicals, and vehicle collisions are also concerns.

Staggering declines of reptiles on Gran Canaria and Ibiza

Reptile species on Gran Canaria are declining significantly due to invasive snakes. The Gran Canaria giant lizard (Gallotia stehlini) has moved from Least Concern to Critically Endangered and the Gran Canaria skink (Chalcides sexlineatus) has moved from Least Concern to Endangered. These endemic animals are prey to the invasive California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae), which was introduced to the island in 1998. The populations of both the Gran Canaria giant lizard and Gran Canaria skink have declined by more than half since 2014.

Also on the Canary islands, conservation action has boosted populations of the La Gomera giant lizard (Gallotia bravoana), despite continuing threats. The species has improved in status from Critically Endangered to Endangered, following captive breeding and reintroduction programmes. Endemic to its namesake island, this once common species was almost driven to extinction by invasive cats, rats, and hunting by people over several centuries. However, the species is still highly threatened by feral cats, as well as landslides that are likely to become more frequent with climate change.

The Ibiza wall lizard (Podarcis pityusensis) has moved from Near Threatened to Endangered, its population declining by 50% since 2010 due to the invasive horseshoe whip snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis).

Illegal trade threatens ornamental cacti

Eighty-two per cent of copiapoa cacti species are now at risk of extinction, up from 55% in 2013. Endemic to the Atacama coastal desert in Chile, the fashion for copiapoa cacti as ornamental species in Europe and Asia has led to an increase in illegal trade, facilitated by social media. The development of roads and housing has brought more people to the area, making the plants more accessible to poachers and destroying their desert habitat. Climate change further threatens these cacti, as the oceanic fog they require for hydration moves with global temperature changes, and these long-lived species cannot reproduce quickly enough to relocate accordingly.

Collaboration between countries is key to prevent poached plants being transported across borders. Additionally, cultivating copiapoa in greenhouses has the potential to provide a sustainable alternative to supply cacti to the worldwide market.