While giant pandas celebrate, the eastern gorilla is closer to extinction

While we celebrate the removal of panda from the endangered species list, the eastern gorilla was included in the critically endangered one, reported the IUCN in its annual report released during the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.

The giant panda is now classified as "vulnerable" a step further from extinction. They've been beneficiaries to intensive conservations campaigns. The IUCN estimates that the total population of pandas today could be as high as 2,060. Also, China has 67 reserves to protect about two-thirds of panda's population.

Nonetheless the IUCN remarks climate change is still a threat to one-third of panda's bamboo habitat.

“Today is a sad day as the Red List shows we are wiping out our closest relative,” Inger Andersen, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in a news conference in Honolulu.

The Eastern Gorilla, the largest living primate is found in the rainforests of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are made up of two sub-species, the mountain and Grauer's,  have suffered a devastating population decline of more than 70% in two years, and the IUCN estimates there are fewer than 5,000 individuals.

“Previously estimated to number around 16,900 individuals, recent surveys show that Grauer’s Gorilla numbers have dropped to only 3,800 individuals.” the IUCN stated. Mountain gorillas have actually recovered some of their population in recent years, but the total number of them in the wild is estimated to be about 880.

Adults can  grow up to 200kg and up to five an a half feet tall. They join three other species that are already critically endangered, the western gorilla, the Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran orangutan. Only the chimpanzees and bonobos are in lesser risk, although they're also listed as endangered.

The IUCN speculates the main reason for their dwindling population is illegal hunting. John Robinson, a primatologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society told The Guardian that refugees displaced by the Rwandan civil war, who relied on gorilla meat, may have also played a part in threatening the species.  

The IUCN Red List is updated twice a year and now covers 82,954 species in our planet. From these 23,928 are threatened with extinction. Their target is to increase their coverage up to 160,000 species by 2020.  The list is seen as a "barometer of life" and is the world's most comprehensive source of information on the global conservation status of flora and fauna.

It also plays a major role in influencing government and civil society on conservation roles, reported IPS. “We are losing species at a faster pace than ever,” Inger Andersen, director general of the IUCN said. The latest findings made it imperative for governments, scientists and society at large to reverse the trend, she said.


Some other figures from the IUCN 2016-2 Red List of Threatened Species:

Extinct = 855

Extinct in the Wild = 68

Critically Endangered = 5,107

Endangered = 7,602

Vulnerable = 11,219

Near Threatened = 5,323



LatinAmerican Post | Maria Andrea Marquez

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