IUCN Red List Update Signals Hope for Gorillas
IUCN Red List Update Signals Hope for Gorillas

IUCN Red List Update Signals Hope for Gorillas

The status of the mountain gorilla is now endangered, an upgrade from critically endangered. Other species are becoming more threatened.

Ashley P. Taylor
Nov 19, 2018


A new version of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of species at risk of extinction was published this Wednesday (November 14). According to the new list, threats to the mountain gorilla have diminished, the BBC reports, though the situation for other species has moved in the opposite direction. The mountain gorilla’s status has shifted from “critically endangered” to “endangered,” and since 2008, mountain gorilla populations worldwide have risen from 600 to more than 1,000.

“In the context of crashing populations of wildlife around the world, this is a remarkable conservation success,” Tara Stoinski, president, CEO, and chief scientific officer of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Georgia, tells the Associated Press.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies species according to their extinction risks on a spectrum from “extinct” to “least concern.”

The gorilla’s resilience may be due in part to conservation efforts including anti-poaching patrols and the deployment of veterinarians trained to help gorillas in the wild. The organization Gorilla Doctors has trained vets to help the apes in the countries where they live. The vets will clean wounds when gorillas are found in snares, for example. “It’s a total conservation win, and there aren’t that many of them,” Kirsten Gilardi, US director for Gorilla Doctors, tells the AP.

See “Overcoming the Challenges of Studying Endangered Animals

In other positive news, the fin whale’s status has improved from endangered to vulnerable, and that of the western gray whale has shifted from critically endangered to endangered, an improvement that the IUCN attributes to international whaling bans that have been in place since 1976. Additionally, Rothschild’s giraffe has gone from endangered to near threatened.

On the other hand, beisa oryx, an East African antelope, and the Bolson tortoise, found in the Mexican desert, are both in more danger now than before. Furthermore, titan arum, a rarely blooming stinky plant known as the corpse flower, has been added to the list as endangered as has a tarantula, the Mexican orange beauty.