World Cup Mascot, Lemurs & Slipper Orchids face extinction
The three-banded armadillo, mascot of this year’s Brazilian World Cup is on the verge of extinction, along with almost 95 percent of lemurs, according to the latest global assessment of species at-risk.
The Brazilian three-banded armadillo – Tolypeutes tricinctus has reportedly declined by over one-third in the last 10-15 years due to loss of half its shrubland habitat.
A total of 94 of the world’s 103 lemur species remain vulnerable to extinction, with a future looking bleak, of which 22 are critically endangered, including the largest living lemur – the large-bodied Indri. Around half or 48 species are listed as endangered, which includes the world’s smallest primate, Madame Berthe mouse lemur, while 22 lemurs were listed as vulnerable to extinction.
The Lemur species are threatened with extinction, turning them into “one of the most threatened groups of animals on Earth,” by the destruction of tropical forest in Madagascar, – their only habitat. Due to political instability and increasing levels of poverty in the past 2 decades, lemurs are also being hunted for food.
Dr Thomas Lacher, of Texas A&M University, said: “The high level of threat among lemurs is particularly troubling and calls for significant conservation action. These distinctive primates serve a critical role in the threatened ecosystems of Madagascar. They also represent an important source of tourism revenue for the country, and as a result are a clear case where conservation can provide local economic benefits.”
Dr Chistoph Schwitzer, on the IUCN’s primate specialist group and director of Conservation at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “Despite profound threats to lemurs, which have been exacerbated by the political crisis in Madagascar, we believe there is still hope.
“Past successes demonstrate that collaboration between local communities, non-governmental organisations and researchers can protect imperilled primate species,” he said, calling for concerted efforts to ensure lemurs survived.
Lemurs aren’t the only one that needs attention. The new endangered list has also flagged up the threat of extinction to slipper orchids, 79 percent of the ornamental plants in Europe, North America, and Asia, which has reportedly suffered from habitat loss.
“What was most surprising about this assessment was the degree of threat to these orchids,” said Hassan Rankou of the IUCN’s orchid specialist group, which is based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Slipper orchids are popular in the multimillion-dollar horticultural industry. Although the industry is sustained by cultivated stock, conservation of wild species is vital for its future.”
Other species of concern in the red list are the Japanese eel – the country’s most expensive food fish, the banana orchid – the national flower of the Cayman Islands.