Good news and bad news. Wild tigers are 40% more numerous in the world than previously thought and the population of Panthera tigris “appears to be stabilizing or even increasing”, even if it remains an endangered species, revealed Thursday the International Union for nature conservation.
On the other hand, the migratory monarch butterfly, a majestic butterfly capable of traveling thousands of kilometers each year to reproduce, has come to join the IUCN Red List, mainly because of climate change and the destruction of its habitat.
Between 3,726 and 5,578 tigers living in the wild
The last assessment of the world’s population of tigers living in the wild dates back to 2015 and the new count has estimated the number of these elegant felines with orange fur striped with black at between 3,726 and 5,578. The 40% jump “is explained by improvements in tracking techniques, showing that there are more tigers than previously thought, and that the number of tigers in the world appears to be stable or increasing”, writes the IUCN in its update of its Red List of Threatened Species, which refers.
“Population trends indicate that projects such as IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Program are effective and that recovery is possible as long as conservation efforts continue,” notes IUCN, which has more than 1,400 member organisations. However, the tiger is not out of the woods and remains an endangered species. “Major threats include poaching of tigers, poaching and hunting of their prey, as well as habitat fragmentation and destruction due to increasing pressures from agriculture and human settlements,” IUCN points out.
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On the other hand, the migratory monarch butterfly, a subspecies of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has seen its population in North America decrease “by between 22% and 72% over the last decade”, notes the IUCN.
“This Red List update highlights the fragility of natural wonders, such as the unique sight of monarch butterflies migrating thousands of miles,” said IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle. in a press release. Logging, deforestation, but also pesticides and herbicides “kill butterflies and milkweed, the host plant on which monarch butterfly larvae feed,” adds the IUCN.
“It’s painful to watch monarch butterflies and their extraordinary migration teeter on the brink of collapse,” said Anna Walker of the New Mexico BioPark Society, who led the monarch butterfly assessment. The western population has declined by about 99.9% since the 1980s. The larger eastern population has declined by 84% between 1996 and 2014. “The question of whether there are enough butterflies left to maintain populations and preventing their extinction remains a concern,” warns the IUCN. For Anna Walker, “there are signs of hope” in the mobilization of the public and organizations to try to protect this butterfly and its habitats.
The situation of sturgeons – also migratory – has also gone from bad to worse, including that of the beluga, renowned for its eggs which are made into caviar and its meat, according to this list. “All species of sturgeon still alive in the northern hemisphere, also migratory, are now threatened with extinction due to dams and poaching,” notes the IUCN.
Of the world’s remaining 26 sturgeon species, 100% are now threatened with extinction, a steeper decline than previously thought due to poaching or barriers to migration.
The Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Extinct in the Wild. The reassessment also confirmed the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius).
The Red List classifies species into one of eight threat categories. A total of 147,517 species were assessed in the latest version, with 41,459 species considered threatened with extinction: of these, 9,065 are critically endangered; 16,094 are in danger and 16,300 are considered vulnerable.