The Extinction Crisis Keeps Getting More Dire, With 28,000 Species At-Risk

The roloway monkey is facing increased threat.
The roloway monkey is facing increased threat.
Photo: Wilfried Berns (German Wikipedia)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated its Red List of Threatened Species last week—and habitat loss, hunting, and climate change continue to push species toward the brink of extinction.


The group has added more than 7,000 species to its Red List update, more than 1,000 of which are threatened. The list now includes more than 100,000 species, and more than 28,000 are threatened with extinction. This news comes not long after an international report concluded that up to a million species could go extinct in the coming decades.

“This Red List update confirms the findings of the recent IPBES Global Biodiversity Assessment: Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history,” said Jane Smart, the IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group global director, in a statement.

The Red List has added 500 deep sea creatures threatened by industrial activities. The deep sea is home to fragile ecosystems, many of which scientists don’t even know that much about. But the oil, gas, mining, and fishing industries increasing deep sea activities are pushing many of these creepy looking fish to the edge of extinction. The scaly-foot snail, whose black prickly body is covered by a shell like those we see with land snails, is the first hydrothermal vent mollusk to join the list.

Other ocean habitats are also under stress. Rhino rays—like the wedgefish and giant guitarfish, which each look like their own version of a manta ray and shark hybrid—are facing the highest threat among marine fish, per the IUCN. Nearly all of the group’s 16 species are critically endangered as a result of unregulated fishing from the Indian and west Pacific Oceans to the east Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea the animals call home. Some people also catch the fish to sell and eat their fins.

But land animals are also facing threats. The new report notes that seven species of primates are now closer to extinction as deforestation and hunting for bushmeat in West Africa pose a greater threat. The white-bearded roloway monkey is among the types of primates moving toward extinction. Conservationists believe only 2,000 of these monkeys remain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, leaving it critically endangered.


“Maintaining the amazing primate diversity of this region will require the creation of new protected areas, better management of existing ones, more effective enforcement of protective legislation, and economic alternatives that value primates as something more than a source of meat, with primate-watching ecotourism, based on successful models elsewhere in Africa, high on the list,” said Russ Mittermeier, who chairs the IUCN Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group, in a statement.

Not even our trees are safe. This update includes more than 5,000 trees the IUCN is keeping its eyes on, including some once found in people’s backyards. The American Elm, a new addition, is on the list as officially endangered due to the rapid spread of an invasive fungus.


Not all hope is lost, though. Climate change, at some level, is inevitable at this point. Still, the worst of it can be avoided if humans get their shit together. The same goes for deforestation, hunting, and overfishing. Humans can stop these activities, saving the species that’ll be lost if we keep on this path.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


Yes, but look at how world GDP has climbed and climbed with our ever-burgeoning world population. Surely that trumps a bunch of fish and monkeys.

/s (as if it has to be said).