Bolivian (Southern) Vizcacha - Lagidium viscacia

The vizcachas (viscachas) are the closest relatives of the Chinchillinae genus, and the five vizcacha species combined with the two chinchilla species form the Chinchillidae family.

All members of this family (aside from the Plains vizcacha) live in rocky, mountainous habitats, and are largely herbivorous. The mountains vizcachas (including the Bolivian vizcacha, also known as the “mountain chinchillas”) are able to subsist off of lichens and mosses, during months where other vegetation is sparse.

While vizcacha fur is almost as thick and soft as chinchilla fur, they’re larger animals, and live higher on mountains than chinchillas, and so have not been raised commercially until recently. Wild vizcachas are also hunted for their pelts, as well, but despite this, the genus Lagidum still seems to be doing fairly well for itself. None are anywhere near as endangered as chinchillas, and most are considered “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

Mountain vizcachas form the majority of the diet of the endangered Andean mountain cat (Leopardis jacobita), so despite their stable population, they are still monitored, as any dip for the species can result in serious consequences for the mountain cat.

Transactions of the Scientific Meetings of the Zoological Society of London, 1835.

Having not quite fully mastered the art of camouflage, Oswald hoped no one would notice how extra scaly and cute this one particular branch was. 

Image from “Zoologia typica“ (1849)

If only this tactic would actually work - there are eight different pangolin species found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poaching for their meat and scales, combined with habitat loss, have made pangolins one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.
Learn more at the IUCN Pangolin SG site and SavePangolins.org


June 23rd, 2015

Following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) increased from 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 156 in 2012. The species has now moved from the Critically Endangered to Endangered category on the IUCN Red List. 

This was achieved thanks to intensive conservation action including the restoration of rabbit populations – the main prey species of the Iberian Lynx - monitoring for illegal trapping, conservation breeding, reintroduction programmes and compensation schemes for landowners, which made their properties compatible with the habitat requirements of the Iberian Lynx. 

[Read Full Article Here]

Nyctixalus pictus by antonsrkn on Flickr.

Cinnamon Frog (Nyctixalus pictus) - Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

This is one of three species of Nyctixalus, and the only one found in Borneo. N. pictus is the widest ranging of the three species as well. However, despite being widespread it is not common anywhere and is listed by the IUCN as near threatened.

Amphibia - Anura - Racophoridae - Nyctixalus - N. pictus

Whale Shark Factory Uncovered in China

What a sad week for sharks around the globe. After Western Australia putting in place its shark-culling policy, the latest marine news from Asia are all about dead whale sharks. 

Hong Kong-based conservation group WildLifeRisk has discovered a  factory in Southern China which processes around 600 whale sharks, calling it the world’s biggest slaughterhouse for the endangered species in an article for the Daily Times.

(The photo above is actually from Pakistani fishermen, illustrating that whale shark fishing is still a huge problem worldwide).

After a four years investigation, the group has found that sharks are slaughtered and processed to produce shark oil for health supplement. Undercover video footage produced by the group showed workers cutting up the large dotted back fins of whale sharks and other shark species.

The slaughterhouse also handles other species of sharks including blue sharks and basking sharks and produces 200 tonnes of shark oil annually from the three species, its owner – identified only as Li – said in the video. 

In another segment of the video, a man identified as Li’s brother said the whale shark skins are exported to European countries such as Italy and France, where they are used by Chinese restaurants.

Whale sharks measure as much as 12 metres but are harmless to humans and feed on tiny marine animals. They are on the “Red List” of endangered species drawn up by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

This is obviously devastating, and who knows how long this had been going on, but it is also wonderful that a conservation group uncovered this slaughterhouse and is shedding the light on these illegal activities.

Did you know that the beautiful, endangered black sea bass in our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit get routine freshwater baths and health checkups? The largest of the three weighs 202 pounds. These amazing fish can reach 500 pounds but are so gentle they like to have their chins scratched by our divers!

The giant sea bass is on the “Red List” of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Establishing Marine Protected Areas can help save the black sea bass. 

“The maternal affection and infantile playfulness stand in pleasing contrast to the fierceness and cruelty possessed by this species in such superlative degree.”

Description reminiscent of another species which is not at all endangered.

Illustration from Brehm’s Life of animals : a complete natural history for popular home instruction and for the use of schools. by Alfred Edmund Brehm ; copiously illustrated with wood cuts and color-plates by Fr. Specht … [et al] ; translated from the third German edition as edited by Prof. Dr. Pechuel-Loesche and William H Volume 1, Mammalia /

Majestic manta ray designated vulnerable species

Diving with the majestic manta ray is an eco-tourist’s dream come true that may soon be experienced only by viewing pictures and videos of the shark family’s graceful giants.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group (SSG), based at Simon Fraser University, has added the Giant and Reef manta rays to its Red List of Threatened Species.

The IUCN SSG, a worldwide network of scientists co-chaired by SFU biologist Nick Dulvy, has declared manta rays Vulnerable with an elevated risk of extinction. Intense fishing fuelled by international demand is wiping out these iconic species by the hundreds.

Until recently, known as one species, the Giant (Manta birostris) and Reef (Manta alfredi) are among the largest fish in the world. The Giant manta ray can grow to more than seven metres across.

Swimming, diving and filming expeditions with manta rays, the top stars in eco-tourism, especially in developing countries, reportedly generate $100 million annually, worldwide.

Manta rays migrate vast distances, crossing international boundaries, in search of food. Increased fishing is depleting their far-flung feeding stations and fishers seeking their food-gathering gill rakers have become manta rays’ greatest predators.

“Given that manta rays have a very low reproduction rate — they give birth to an average of one offspring every two years — they are very vulnerable to overexploitation,” says Dulvy. “They are a long-lived species with little capacity to cope with modern fishing methods and globalized demand from rising human populations.”

“Increasing demand for these fishes’ filter-feeding system for traditional Chinese medicinal purposes, especially in Hong Kong, is rapidly driving down their population everywhere,” saysLucy Harrison. An SFU alumna and biologist, Harrison is the program officer for IUCN SSG.

Manta ray populations are in steep decline in several regions, with a reduction in numbers by as much as 80 per cent during the last 75 years. Globally, the decline is believed to be more than 30 per cent.

“We can save manta rays — the solution is in our hands,” says Dulvy. He and his IUCN SSG colleagues recommend the creation of international conservation treaties to protect manta rays. They also recommend the following:

  • Using the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) to monitor and regulate the trade and exploitation of manta rays.

  • Enacting legislation in countries to reduce and eventually prevent fishing pressures on manta rays through controlled trade.

Duellmanohyla soralia: Brook Frog | ©Todd W. Pierson 

Adult from Cerro Negro Norte, Sierra del Merendón, Guatemala.

This species is endemic to the Sierra del Merendón in north-western Honduras and north-eastern Guatemala, and dependent upon old-growth cloudforest.

It is classified as a Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List.

overfishing almost pushed this fish to extinction. donate to my research project and help conserve this goliath.  


*****5 days left to fund my project! share it with your friends!****

Three-toed sloths are in the genus Bradypus (from the Greek for “slow foot”) the only genus in the family Bradypodidae. There are only four species of three toed sloths, all are New World animals.

B. pygmaeus or pygmy three-toed sloth (read more about them in this article in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington) is found only on the Isla Escudo de Veraguas in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The species was described in 2001 and is currently on the IUCN Red list as critically endangered. D:

The Smithsonian has a research station in Bocas del Toro, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and they have a neat database of species found in that area.

sloth factoids courtesey the Encyclopedia of Life


IUCN’s ’Red List’ of Endangered Species was updated last week and shows that two of the most at risk species are lemurs and temperate slipper orchids,

90 out of the known 101 species of Lemur are threatened with extinction, and 20% are are listed as critically endangered. The main threat is from illegal logging of tropical forests of Madagascar (the only place they are found), which has accelerated in recent years.

79% of Temperate Slipper Orchid species - found across North America, Europe and Asia - are threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction and overcollection.

Source and other changes to the Red List

According to IUCN counts, the countries with the highest numbers of species at risk of extinction are Ecuador (2,301), the U.S., Malaysia (1,226), Indonesia (1,206) and Mexico (1,074). India, China, Brazil, Tanzania and Australia round out the top ten; each of those nations has more than 900 species at risk of extinction on the IUCN Red List.

After reading a book called The Lizard King, I have become more more aware of certain reptilian species that are both endangered and commonly smuggled or come from a smuggled lineage. I would like to bring this to the attention of my followers just so the knowledge is out there that there are people who illegally smuggle reptiles and all other species into the U.S. I just hope that some day this will stop so that these species can finally be taken off the IUCN Red List. Because of this, I will now post a smuggled species of the day to continue the awareness.

photo by: Bullit Marquez

Updated IUCN Red List Contains 22,784 Species Facing Extinction

The IUCN Red List was updated and now includes 77,340 species, of which 22,784 could go extinct.

Habitat loss and degradation were identified as the main threat to 85% of species included on the list. Also, invasive species and illegal trade were identified as possible causes of these population declines.

Species like the African Lion, the New Zealand Sea Lion, and the African Golden Cat are facing increased threats to their long-term survival.

This IUCN Red List update comes after a recent study showed that Earth is undergoing a mass extinction. This research study also linked human activity with the population decline of a number of animal species.


The IUCN update did show that the total number of animal and plant species is declining. However, the list included success stories such as the Iberian Lynx whose population has increased from 52 to 156 from 2002 to 2012 and has been moved from the critically endangered list to the endangered list.

“This IUCN Red List update confirms that effective conservation can yield outstanding results,” said Inger Andersen, the IUCN Director General. Andersen also commented that “saving the Iberian Lynx from the brink of extinction while securing the livelihoods of local communities is a perfect example.”


Even with some successes like the Iberian Lynx and the Guadalupe Fur Seal, the IUCN Red List is a reminder of how many species are on the brink and need help desperately.

“But this update is also a wake-up call, reminding us that our natural world is becoming increasingly vulnerable,” Andersen warned. “The international community must urgently step up conservation efforts if we want to secure this fascinating diversity of life that sustains, inspires and amazes us every day.”


Medicinal plants, 44 Indian species in total, have been added to the IUCN Red List in this update. All of these medicinal plants are threatened with extinction, mostly due to habitat loss and over-collection.

Also, 99% of orchids from Asia are threatened with extinction. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), commercial trade of these species is prohibited. However, illegal trade of these highly desirable orchids continues due to a lack of enforcement.


Keep yourself “hidrated” this summer with HidrateMe:

Become an IUCN Red List Assessor... online and for free!

The IUCN have released the first three modules of their course on becoming an IUCN Red List assessor!

Red List Assessors are the people who assign classifications like ‘endangered’ and 'vulnerable’ to animals. It is all thoroughly regulated through the IUCN.

While I am officially part of the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group for Madagascar, I don’t yet have any training in conservation assessment. So I will be taking this course.

If you are interested, you too can take the courses here.

Nearly one in ten wild bee species face extinction in Europe while the status of more than half remains unknown - IUCN report

19 March 2015

The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future. A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.



Sechelleptus seychellarum (Seychelles giant millipede)

“This species is threatened by habitat deterioration due to the effects of invasive plants, especially Cinnamomum verum, and climate change causing drying of higher, cloud associated habitat. The species is absent from Mahe and Praslin islands but probably occurred there in the past; extinction on those islands being due to predation by introduced tenrecs Tenrec ecaudatus. In more exposed areas (open woodland) an increased mortality has been recorded resulting from parasitism by a sarcophagid fly. This may be a natural mortality factor but appears to be increasing as hot, dry conditions favour development of these flies. In closed woodland and inland sites the flies are scarce and parasitism associated mortality infrequent. Climate change is resulting in longer dry seasons, which favour development of the flies.”

images here and here and here