A recent update to the IUCN Red List, which assesses the extinction threat to species around the world, paints a grim picture with no improvement to any species’ situation.

The recent update to the IUCN Red List brings grim news about the situation of our global wildlife. No species included on the Red List had “genuinely improved in status enough” to earn a lower threat category with the recent update. The Bornean orangutan thus remains critically endangered.

Besides the Bornean orangutan, another 6,127 other species are critically endangered, including both the Tapanuli and Sumatran orangutan. 873 species are now extinct while 73 species have ceased to exist in the wild.

However, more than 15,000 species have not been assessed in this recent update due to lacking data, and some species remain completely unassessed. If the declining trend applies to these species as well, the picture could be even gloomier than at first glance.

Overexploitation of wildlife

The IUCN attributes the continual decline of wildlife to human exploitation. Acting director general of the IUCN, Grethel Aguilar, states the update to the Red List “clearly shows how much humans around the world are overexploiting wildlife”.

For instance, endangered primates such as the orangutan are sold as pets on the illegal market for wildlife, and their rainforest habitats are cleared to benefit industrial interests.

The findings of the updated Red List are in line with those of the IPBES report that came out earlier this year. The IPBES report found that more than 1 million species face extinction with one of the main drivers to being direct exploitation of organisms.

With the recent update, the IUCN Red List now includes assessments of the extinction threat to 105,732 animal and plant species. More than 28,000 of the species assessed face extinction.

Time for action and strengthened efforts

In light of the recent Red List update and the IPBES report from earlier this year, our wildlife is in dire need of help. We need to act now to mitigate biodiversity loss and the general decline in nature – not only for the sake of the critically endangered orangutan and its peers, but also for our own survival.

The IPBES report urged decision-makers to prioritise sustainability across all levels and sectors to mitigate continued loss of biodiversity. Aguilar of the IUCN joins in and urges that “States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature” and instead focus on strengthening sustainability.

By helping us protect the critically endangered orangutan and its habitat, you help ensure restoration of the rainforest and its ecosystem, and you help protect it against industrial interests and climatic consequences. You can help us by supporting our efforts here >>