Lemurs and North Atlantic Right Whales, on the brink of extinction

Aerial view of North Atlantic Right Whale swimming along calf

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, an ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes partner, reported that almost a third of lemurs and North Atlantic Right Whales are now critically endangered.

The IUCN Red List categorizes species worldwide by their level of threat to extinction. Critically Endangered is the last level before the species becomes extinct.

The currently revised list contains more than 120,000 species assessed, with at least 32,000 of these species threatened with extinction. The updated list reveals the true scale of threat the primate and whale species are facing.

Per their report, “33 lemur species are Critically Endangered, with 103 of the 107 surviving species threatened with extinction.” The lemurs in Madagascar are not the only primate species struggling to survive. In Africa, more than 50% of the primate species are threatened by extinction.

In the case of the North Atlantic Right Whale, “Fewer than 250 mature individuals were estimated to be alive at the end of 2018, the total population having declined by approximately 15% since 2011”.

Species in risk of extinction have one thing in common: habitat degradation from human activity.

The lemurs in Madagascar, as well as other African primates, are endangered because of deforestation and poaching. The North Atlantic Right Whale’s population is declining due to global warming, boat injury or entanglement in fishing lines.

This IUCN Red List update is another urgent call for individuals, NGOs, governments and businesses to reengineer harmful practices in order to slow, stop and reverse biodiversity loss via science-informed action.