Conservation group adds 200 animals to endangered list
The black and white ruffed lemur is threatened by the loss of its habitat
GLAND, Switzerland (CNN) -- Citing a dramatic increase in the number of species threatened with extinction, the World Conservation Union released its "red list" of endangered plants and animals Thursday.
In the first update of the list in four years, 11,046 plants and animals were said to be "facing a high risk of extinction in the near future, in almost all cases as a result of human activities."
The new list adds over 200 animal species worldwide to the most critically endangered list, including 11 mammals, 14 birds and 38 reptiles.
While habitat loss -- largely through deforestation and the spread of cities -- is a factor in roughly 90 percent of the endangered listings, the group highlighted three types of animals under attack from specific human threats.
Six primate species were added the list, largely due to the "bush meat" trade in parts of Asia and Africa. Animals like the red-shanked douc langur of Vietnam and Laos are increasingly targeted for meat for human consumption.
Thirteen different species of albatross have been placed on the list. The conservation union said the large seabirds are victims of longline fisheries -- where vessels trail miles-long steel cables with hundreds of baited hooks.
Reptile species like the Asian three-striped box turtle are under threat due to their value to the Asian traditional medicine trade.
World Conservation Union Director Maritta von Bieberstein Koch-Weser said the growing list is further confirmation that a wave of species loss -- often speculated by scientists -- is well under way. "These findings should be taken very seriously by the global community," she said.
Human activity was cited as the cause of 816 plant and animal species having vanished in the past 500 years. However, the conservation group cautions that our knowledge of how many species exist -- or used to exist -- is still partial.
A giant asian pond turtle. This species is being heavily exploited for food and medicinal use in Asia
The 5,611 threatened plants currently listed as threatened may represent only a small fraction of the number of species truly under attack since the group estimates that only 4 percent of all known plant species have been fully evaluated -- and many more plant species may have not yet been discovered.
The updated list comes in the wake of several high-profile announcements on endangered species. In the past year, the gray wolf, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and gray whale have all recovered sufficiently to be removed from the U.S. government's Endangered Species list. Earlier this month, researchers in West Africa confirmed that overhunting has led to the extinction of the first primate to disappear in over a century -- a 20-pound monkey species called Miss Waldron's red colobus.
The recommendation for slowing the disappearance of plants and animals includes increasing the commitment of human and financial resources between 10 and 100 times. The new "red list" was released in advance of next week's World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan.
The Swiss-based group describes itself as the world's largest conservation organization whose participating members include 112 national government agencies and 735 non-government groups. The list is comprised of data from governments, private groups, and research institutions in virtually all the world's countries.
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The World Conservation Union
IUCN World Conservation Congress 2000 - Amman, Jordan
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