Nineteen of the species previously on the list have moved to a higher level of concern. They include the precious stream toad Ansonia smeagol (named after Gollum in Lord of the Rings), which is being decimated by tourist pollution in Malaysia; two types of Japanese earthworm that are threatened by habitat loss, agrochemicals, and radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster; and the Bartle Frere cool-skink, a slinky Australian reptile whose habitat has shrunk as a result of global warming to a 200-metre band at the peak of the tallest mountain in Queensland.
The threats are not limited to faraway creatures with exotic names. Scientists have warned the loss of biodiversity is more of a threat than climate change because it erodes the earths capacity to provide clean air, fresh water, food and a stable weather system.
Compilers of the red list said the latest toll showed the onslaught on biodiversity.
This reinforces the theory that we are moving into a period when extinctions are taking place at a much higher pace than the natural background rate. We are endangering the life support systems of our planet and putting the future of our own species in jeopardy, said Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN red list unit in Cambridge. This is our window of opportunity to act we have the knowledge and tools on what needs to be done, but now need everyone, governments, private sector and civil society, to escalate actions to prevent the decline and loss of species.
Part of the rise is due to the steady expansion of the IUCN red list which is compiled with the collaboration of thousands of experts around the world. It now includes 93,577 species, of which 26,197 are classified as vulnerable, critical or endangered.
Leigh Henry, a species policy expert at the World Wildlife Fund, says the situation threatens the work that has been done to conserve wild populations in Asia. A patchwork of regulations governs these tigers, meaning no agency can say how many there are, when they are born, when they die and what happens to their valuable parts when they do. Illegal trade in tiger parts remains the primary threat to tigers in the wild, and the last thing we want is parts from captive tigers helping sustain or even fuel this black market.
This is bad for humans, too. In 2011, an owner of exotic pets in Zanesville, Ohio, released his menagerie into the community; 18 tigers and other animals were shot to protect people. In 2001, Texas was forced to pass a law demanding owners register their animals after a pet tiger ripped off a young boys arm. Since 1990, there have been hundreds of dangerous incidents involving big cats in the US. Four children lost their lives and dozens of others lost limbs or suffered other often traumatic injuries. Nineteen adults have been killed and scores have been mauled, says Debbie Leahy, the manager for captive wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States. Many captive big cats are kept in inhumane conditions, pose a threat to the community, create a burden for law enforcement agencies and sanctuaries, and compromise conservation efforts.
The keeping of charismatic megafaunae as status symbols sits worryingly close to the mentality of killing wild animals for sport. The distinction between the wild and the tamed has been blurred. Most of us see wild animals only in TV documentaries, so they become commodities or experiences.
A tiger in your back garden is far removed from William Blakes unknowable and majestic creature burning bright. But even Blake wrote at a time when the Exeter Exchange on the Strand in London displayed tigers, lions and elephants in a first-floor department store, visited by Lord Byron and Jane Austen.
As we reduce and affect their natural habitats, will we be left with big cats as flea-bitten, oversized but potentially deadly kittens?
The environment secretarys assurances about the UKs toxic air pollution do not inspire confidence
In January, a sulphurous cloud of French pollution drifted across from France to further stink out vast areas of Surrey, its stench so powerful that it overwhelmed the natural foul odours of Eric Clapton, who dwells silently in the hideous region, a subterranean blues truffle.
It was as if the smelly Gallic gas glob did not respect international borders, and had imagined it could just blow around on the wind wherever it liked, a giant goose feather fashioned only from farts, irrespective of our exemption from the Schengen area agreement. Clearly, a continent-wide environmental strategy is required.
Our own response to the perceived Russian threat has been to delay the visa of the Putin-backing billionaire Roman Abramovich, who I once stood next to while watching 80s Los Angeles band the Long Ryders in a venue he owned. This was perhaps the only point of overlap in the simplistic Venn diagram of Russian oligarchs and alternative country pioneers, apart from the brief period when Oleg Deripaska played pedal steel for Jason & the Scorchers.
But the threat of Russian invasion is especially problematic in the peacenik nude bathing utopia of Sweden which, in 1980, took official measures to discourage retailers from selling war toys to children. Not knowing one end of a gun from another, Swedes will be fighting the oncoming Russian hordes in the streets with Buckaroos , Fuzzy Felts and Slimes .
Ironically, street combat with apparently harmless toys is exactly the kind of unpredictable surrealist strategy favoured by Putins art-school propaganda adviser Vladislav Surkov, and will either result in an unexpected Swedish victory, or a Russian counter attack involving Stretch Armstrongs , Mutons , andKerplunks .
I envy the Swedes the simplistic certainty of the threat of Russian invasion. Here Brexit means that, like the ladies in the flashbacks in The Handmaids Tale, we are sleepwalking into a rightwing coup without noticing. What supplies should we stockpile in our British cellars to survive subjugation by the Brexiteers? French horns? Kraftwerk bootlegs? Experts?
Those hated experts were in conspicuously short supply last week as the environment secretary M Gove responded to demands from the corrupt fat cats of the unelected EU that we take more serious steps to stop choking ourselves, our European neighbours, and our whole planet to death.
Have they learned nothing in their Brussels ivory tower? This is exactly the kind of interfering attitude that brought about Brexit. If British people want to choke themselves and their children to death in a foul smog of car fumes that is up to us, and its not for beret-wearing traitors like Monsieur Jacques Delors, Madame Michle Yvette Marie-Thrse Jeanne Honorine Alliot-Marie and Monsieur Eddie Izzard to tell us we cant.
British air pollution levels are above those recommended by the World Health Organisation for 90% of our population, and fall far short of the meddling EUs less stringent recommendations. But when we leave the deplorable EU the untrustworthy adopted nest-cuckoo M Gove has promised we will actually aim to better the shit EUs environmental standards, even as he flounders towards deregulated food supply life rafts made of his friend Donald Trumps maggoty meats.
The literary stereotype of an orphan is of a meek and hopeful lamb child. But take it from me, all orphans lie, and M Gove is no exception. Last week, in the heat of the Windrush backdraft, the vengeful adoptee also claimed, counterintuitively, that Brexit has made the UK more welcome to migration and more open to more people entering. The shamans of the Lakota nation, searching for someone to fulfil the ritual role of the heyoka, the crazy backwards clown, for whom all truths are inverted, need look no further than M Gove for their future holyfool.
You dont have to be Doubting Thomas , from Gods The Bible , to doubt the airy assurances M Gove bubbles through his lying goldfish lips. Pirate Liam Fox sees a buccaneering Britain, bustling with freebooting Tom of Finland businessmen in unbuttoned shirts, thigh length sea-chaps and skull medallions, and is unlikely to allow its forthcoming post-Brexit economic miracle to be hampered by costly self-imposed environmental legislation, me hearties.
Clearly, the pollution crisis needs a top-to-bottom strategy, with the immediate elimination of the internal combustion engine as its ultimate goal. M Gove has promised to phase out diesel- and petrol-driven cars by 2040, a tiny flatus puff in a vast tornado, 22 years of slow death away.
As usual M Gove and his west London friends, essentially the human equivalent of the all-controlling Orangutan priests in the dystopia of Planet of the Apes, will find a way of remaining untouched in their airtight Notting Hill survival biospheres, their constituents choking to death beneath the Westway outside.
The 19,000-a-year Notting Hill Preparatory school has begun fitting 5,000 air filters to each of its classrooms, and who can blame it. But one looks forward to an M Gove government implementing the same safety measures in every state school across the country, perhaps employing cost-cutting subcontractors with the same bottom-line attention to detail as the Grenfell Tower cladders.
Breathable air for school children, it appears, is to become an economic privilege, like private education, not a basic human right. When I blagged into a private school on an orphans charity bung in 1979, I was taken aback by the playing fields, the chapel, and the Welsh mountain geography-trip cottage. Back in those halcyon days, I took the idea that Id be able to breathe the air as read.
Surviving cyclist in satisfactory condition in hospital as official says bikers tried to scare the mountain lion and then hit it
A mountain biker who was killed by a cougar near Seattle and his friend who escaped after the animal attacked him did everything right, authorities have said.
The two men were riding on a trail in the Cascade Mountain foothills on Saturday when the mountain lion began following them. Authorities said they did everything state guidelines advise: getting off their bikes, making noise and trying to scare the animal away. One even smacked it with his bike, after it charged.
The cougar ran off but returned and attacked when the men got back on their bikes. It bit one the survivor on the head and shook him. The second cyclist ran and the animal dropped the first victim and pounced, killing its victim and dragging him back to what appeared to be its den, Sgt Ryan Abbott of King county sheriffs department said.
They did everything they were supposed to do, Abbott said on Sunday. But something was wrong with this cougar.
The survivor was still in hospital on Sunday. A Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman, Susan Gregg, said the 31-year-old man was in satisfactory condition.
Authorities would not confirm the names of the cyclists until the man who died, a 32-year-old Seattle resident, was formally identified. That was expected on Monday.
The attack near North Bend, 30 miles east of Seattle, was the first fatal cougar attack in Washington state in 94 years. The first man managed to get on his bike and ride off, looking back to see his friend being dragged into the trees, Abbott said. The cyclist rode for two miles before he could get a cellphone signal to call 911.
When rescuers arrived, it took about half an hour to find the second victim, who was dead with the cougar on top of him in what appeared to be a den-like area. An officer shot at the animal, which ran off. Several hours later, state fish and wildlife agents used dogs to track the cougar to a nearby tree. They shot and killed it.
Authorities planned to match DNA taken from the animal with DNA from the victims to be certain they killed the right cougar. They also plan to examine the cougar to see what might have been wrong with it.
There are an estimated 2,000 cougars in Washington. Until the 1960s, the state paid hunters a bounty for killing them. Now it allows 250 to be hunted in 50 designated zones. While they are sometimes known to kill livestock or pets, and though one even found its way into a park in Seattle in 2009, encounters with people are rare.
Attacks have become more common, though, as people encroach on the animals territory. In North America, there have been about 25 deadly attacks and 95 non-fatal attacks reported in the past century, but more attacks have been reported in the US west and Canada over the past 20 years than in the previous 80.
Experts say people encountering the big cats in the wild should stop and pick up small children immediately. Because running and rapid movements can trigger the animals prey drive, people should not run. Instead they should face the cougar, speak firmly and slowly back away, appearing as large as possible by standing on a rock or stump or opening a sweatshirt or jacket.
Exclusive: Study finds 12,000 items worth $4m, including ivory, live orangutans and a huge number of reptiles and birds for the pet trade
The online sale of endangered and threatened wildlife is rife across Europe, a new investigation has revealed, ranging from live cheetahs, orangutans and bears to ivory, polar bear skins and many live reptiles and birds.
Researchers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) spent six weeks tracking adverts on 100 online marketplaces in four countries, the UK, Germany, France and Russia. They found more than 5,000 adverts offering to sell almost 12,000 items, worth $4m (3m) in total. All the specimens were species in which trade is restricted or banned by the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.
Wildlife groups have worked with online marketplaces including eBay, Gumtree and Preloved to cut the trade and the results of the survey are an improvement compared to a previous Ifaw report in 2014. In March, 21 technology giants including Google, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram became part of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, and committed to bring the online illegal trade in threatened species down by 80% by 2020.
It is great to see we are making really significant inroads into disrupting and dismantling the trade, said Tania McCrea-Steele at Ifaw. But the scale of the trade is still enormous.
Reptiles for the pet trade were the single biggest group, making up 37% of the adverts, with live turtles and tortoises being sold in large numbers. Endangered birds were also common, making up 31% of the adverts. Parrots were the most frequently advertised, but almost 500 owls and 350 birds of prey were also offered.
Most of the adverts of large, live animals were found in Russia, where big cats or bears are regarded by some as status symbols. Leopards, cheetahs and jaguars were all offered for sale in Russia, as were more than 130 live primates, including orangutans, lemurs and gibbons.
However, seven live primates were also found in UK adverts and one live bear advert was found in Germany. More commonly offered for sale in the UK were big cat skins from lions, tigers and leopards, as well as polar bear skins.
Some endangered species can be legally traded, for example if they are bred in captivity. But it is often difficult to tell which sales are legal, as few adverts provide sufficient information, such as certificate numbers. The legal trade can serve as cover for the illegal trade, warned McCrea-Steele.
The Ifaw researchers selected 327 of the adverts that appeared most clearly illegal and have shared the information with law enforcement authorities. McCrea-Steele said that online wildlife trading has become big business: I have seen investigations where enforcers walk into a room of someone they have identified as trading online and they have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall animal body parts rooms of death, which are deeply disturbing.
Tracks in White Sands national monument suggest hunters tracked 8ft creature with long arms and sharp claws but its unclear why
Researchers studying a trail of fossilized footprints on a remote New Mexico salt flat have determined that the tracks tell the story of a group of ice age hunters stalking a giant sloth.
Scientist David Bustos said the tracks, both adult and childrens footprints found at White Sands National Monument, showed people followed a giant ground sloth, purposely stepping in their tracks as they did so.
Biodiversity concerns prompt emergency plan to use ferrets to round up the few rabbits left
It is not a pastime for which rabbits usually require much encouragement. But a mystery depletion in numbers on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog has led to an emergency effort to coax the local population into breeding well, like rabbits.
Ferrets are being deployed to chase the reluctant remaining animals out of their warrens and into the hands of conservationists, who are bringing them together, safe from the stress of predators, in the hope that romance will blossom.
It is believed that the number of rabbits on Schiermonnikoog, or Grey Monk island, has been declining for the last three years, although conservationists are only working from the memory of the 947 people who live there.
The concern is that the unexplained decrease could have a negative effect on the biodiversity of Schiermonnikoog, a 9.9-mile-long nature reserve off the northern coastline, which attracts 300,000 visitors a year.
The rabbits play a vital role in nibbling away at the invasive American black cherry, a variety of the woody plant Prunus serotina that gets in the way of other species. Birds on the island are also known to use the rabbit warrens to lay eggs.
Illegal pigeon hunting across Samoa is risking the extinction of the countrys national bird: the little dodo or manumea. Will this little-known island pigeon suffer the same fate as its namesake?
Nearly two hundred years after the extinction of the dodo, Sir William Jardin a Scottish naturalist and bird-aficionado described another odd, bulky, island pigeon. From the island of Samoa, this one was distinguished by a massive, curving bill that sported tooth-like serrations on its lower mandible. Given the strangeness of the creature, Jardine set it in its own genus and dubbed it Didunculus the little dodo. Genetic evidence has since confirmed that the tooth-billed pigeon or little dodo is one of the closest living relatives of its long-deceased namesake. Today, the little dodo is at the very precipice of extinction, but it remains nearly as cryptic and little known as it did when Jardin gave it a scientific name in 1845.
The little dodo is the last surviving species in its genus, Rebecca Stirnemann said. The Fijian and Tongan species [of the little dodo] are both extinct. It is the national bird of Samoa and appears in many of the stories often in association with chiefs.
A shoestring expedition to one of the remotest places in Sumatra has returned with stunning photos of tigers, tapirs, clouded leopards among other rare species, large and small. Will they find orangutans next?
Last year a motley crew of conservationists, adventurers and locals trekked into one of the last unexplored regions of Sumatra. They did so with a mission: check camera traps and see what they could find. The team organized by the small NGO, Habitat ID came back with biological gold: photos of Sumatran tigers, Malayan tapirs, and sun bears. They also got the first record of the Sunda clouded leopard in the area and found a specimen of a little-known legless reptile called Wegners glass lizard. But most tantalizingly of all is what they didnt find, but still suspect is there: a hidden population of orangutans that would belong to the newly described species, Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).
The trek into the interior was fraught with hordes of leaches, wasps, cliffs, river-crossings, and trackless jungle, and it pushed everyone on the team to their limits, Greg McCann, the head of Habitat ID and a team member, said, clearly relishing the adventure to an undisclosed area they call Hadabaun Hills.
The plateau, called Dolok Silang Liyang in the ethnic Batak language, means the mountain where the wind rustles the leaves of the trees, he continues. What we found there was a wet and misty world of mosses, lichens, and liverworts, of fallen trees and rotten logs and eerie silence. Sometimes we would fall up to our waists into bog-like earth of organic matter.