Monarch Butterflies Now Listed As Endangered

21 July 2022, Gland, Switzerland (IUCN) – The endangered status of the migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus), famous for its stunning annual migration of up to 4,000 kilo metres across the Americas, is due to habitat loss and climate change. Dams and poaching have put all remaining sturgeon species, which are migratory and located throughout the northern hemisphere, in danger of going extinct, bringing the most critically endangered class of animals even closer to extinction. New population estimates for the tiger (Panthera tigris) have been found after a new assessment.

The IUCN Director General, Dr. Bruno Oberle, stated that “today’s Red List update underlines the fragility of nature’s treasures, such as the unique sight of monarch butterflies migrating across thousands of kilometres.” “We need effective, justly administered protected and conserved areas, together with resolute action to fight climate change and restore ecosystems, to maintain the tremendous diversity of nature. In turn, communities are supported by biodiversity conservation by receiving critical services like food, water, and sustainable employment.

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A subspecies of the monarch butterfly is the endangered migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The native population has decreased by between 22 and 72 percent during the past ten years. This population is well-known for its winter migrations from Mexico and California to breeding areas across the United States and Canada. Significant portions of the butterflies’ winter habitat in Mexico and California have already been destroyed by logging, both legal and illegal, and deforestation to make room for agriculture and urban development, while pesticides and herbicides used in intensive agriculture throughout the range kill butterflies and milkweed, the host plant that the monarch butterfly larvae feed on.

The migratory monarch butterfly has been severely impacted by climate change, which is a rapidly expanding threat; drought stunts milkweed growth and increases the frequency of catastrophic wildfires; temperature extremes prompt earlier migrations before milkweed is present; and severe weather has killed millions of butterflies.

The western population, which went from having as many as 10 million butterflies to only 1,914 between the 1980s and 2021, is the one that is most in danger of going extinct. Between 1996 and 2014, the bigger eastern region’s population decreased by 84 percent. If enough butterflies survive, will the populations be able to support themselves and avoid extinction?

“While it is upsetting to see the monarch butterfly and its spectacular migration teeter on the brink of extinction, there are some encouraging indicators. To try and safeguard this butterfly and its habitats, numerous people and organizations have banded together. “We all have a role to play in ensuring that this iconic insect makes a full recovery. From planting native milkweed and reducing pesticide use to supporting the protection of overwintering sites and contributing to community science,” said Anna Walker, member of the IUCN SSC Butterfly and Moth Specialist Group and species survival officer at the New Mexico Bio Park Society, who oversaw the monarch butterfly assessment.

According to the worldwide sturgeon reassessment report released today, all 26 of the world’s remaining sturgeon species are now completely in danger of going extinct, up from 85% in 2009. The evaluations are based on precise calculations that reveal a greater decline over the last three generations than was once believed. On the IUCN Red List, 17 species are now classified as Critically Endangered, three are Endangered, and five are Vulnerable. The Yangtze Sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus) has gone from being critically endangered to being extinct in the wild. The reevaluation has also confirmed that the Chinese Paddlefish is gone (Psephurus gladius).

Sturgeons have long been overfished for their meat and caviar despite being renowned for their size, with the Critically Endangered Beluga (Huso huso) reaching lengths of up to eight metres and weighing up to 1,700 kilos. More than half of these species continue to be impacted by poaching despite being protected by international law; stricter enforcement of laws against the unlawful sale of sturgeon meat and caviar is essential to halt further decreases.

All sturgeon species are hampered by dams when they migrate to their breeding sites, and the warming of rivers brought on by global warming further impedes sturgeon reproduction. Key actions to maintain the long-term survival of the world’s sturgeons include restocking, which has proven successful for species like the Critically Endangered Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii), the restoration of freshwater ecosystems, and the construction of efficient fish tunnels.

According to updated statistics, there are currently between 3,726 and 5,578 tigers roaming freely around the world. Improvements in monitoring have led to a 40% rise since the last tiger assessment in 2015, indicating that there are more tigers than previously believed and that their numbers are either constant or growing globally. Although this reevaluation shows that the tiger is still listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, population trends show that initiatives like the IUCN Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme are succeeding and that recovery is conceivable as long as conservation efforts are maintained.

Tiger poaching, hunting and poaching of their prey, as well as habitat fragmentation and degradation brought on by the increasing pressures of agriculture and human development, are major dangers. To effectively safeguard the species, it is essential to connect and expand protected areas, make sure they are well-managed, and collaborate with local populations that live near and in tiger habitats.

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