Leatherback Turtle no longer Critically Endangered

The latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has revealed that some species are showing signs of recovery, including the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), a species that is sometimes seen in British seas.

Thanks to conservation efforts in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean region, the subpopulation of Leatherback Turtles there is now abundant and increasing in numbers. This has contributed to a change in its IUCN Red List status from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, the East Pacific Ocean and West Pacific Ocean subpopulations are both in decline due to egg harvesting and accidental capture in fishing gear.

Back on dry land, the status of the rather cute looking Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis) has also improved from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened. Found on six of the California Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, the Island Fox declined in numbers during the 1990s due to disease and predation from non-native animals such as the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Today, thanks to conservation efforts by the US National Park Service, the population has bounced back and the Golden Eagles have been relocated.

Two species of albatross have also improved in status. The Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys) has moved from Endangered to Near Threatened and the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) has moved from Vulnerable to Near Threatened. Unintentional capture in fishing gear is the greatest threat to these species but efforts are being made by longline and trawl fleets worldwide to reduce the number of birds killed as bycatch.

Unfortunately, as with every IUCN Red List update, some species were revealed to be declining including the magnificent Okapi (Okapia johnstoni). There are now a total of 21,286 threatened species but The IUCN Red List continues to raise awareness of these species and highlights those in urgent need of conservation efforts.

Find out more about the latest IUCN Red List update at iucnredlist.org.

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