Today marks the start of a year long celebration of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. For the past 50 years the IUCN Red List has been instrumental in guiding conservation action and policy decisions as well as providing a health check for our planet – a Barometer of Life.
The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to livelihoods. From the Lime Loving Cypripedium (Cypripedium calcicola), a plant listed as Critically Endangered to the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus), a mammal listed as Endangered, the IUCN Red List has so far assessed 71,576 species worldwide. However urgent work is still needed and we are hoping that by 2020 at least 160,000 species will have been assessed, improving taxonomic coverage and providing a more solid base from which to influence conservation.
To launch the 50th anniversary of he IUCN Red List a study has been published today in the journal eLIFE. The study indicates that a quarter of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, with ray species found to be at a higher risk than sharks. The findings are part of the first ever global analysis of these species carried out by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG). It includes the analysis of the conservation status of 1,041 shark, ray and closely related chimaera species, and was the result of a collaboration of 302 experts from 64 countries.