‘4 of 6 great apes on verge of extinction’
Four of the six great apes, including the Eastern Gorilla – the largest living primate and one of our closest cousins – are now critically endangered, just one step away from extinction, according to a new report.
The latest updated Red List of Threatened Species also put the Western Gorilla, Bornean Orangutan and Sumatran Orangutan in the critically endangered category, while the Chimpanzee and Bonobo were listed as endangered.
The list also reports the decline of the Plains Zebra due to illegal hunting, and the growing extinction threat to Hawaiian plants posed by invasive species. Thirty-eight of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plant species assessed for this update are listed as extinct and four other species have been listed as ‘extinct in the wild’, meaning they only occur in cultivation.
Released by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) World Conservation Congress, the Red List now includes 82,954 species, of which 23,928 are threatened with extinction.
The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei), which is made up of two subspecies, has moved from endangered to critically endangered – one step away from extinction – due to a devastating population decline of over 70 per cent in 20 years. Its population is now estimated to be fewer than 5,000. Grauer’s Gorilla, one subspecies of Eastern Gorilla – has lost 77 per cent of its population since 1994, declining from 16,900 individuals to just 3,800 in 2015.
Killing or capture of great apes is illegal; yet hunting represents the greatest threat to Grauer’s Gorillas.