We've all heard the good news about everyone's favourite bamboo-eating bear. The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species announced that the giant panda was no longer endangered. But while we've been cheering the poster animal for conservation, other Red List reshuffles have received much less attention. Here are some you should know about.

Iucn Plains Zebra 2016 09 06

The plains zebra (Equus quagga) is Africa's most common and widely distributed zebra species, but the last 14 years have taken their toll. In that time, we've lost 24% of the population, according to the IUCN. "The plains zebra is threatened by hunting for bushmeat and skins, especially when they move out of protected areas," says the group.

Iucn Eastern Gorilla 2016 09 06

We've lost 70% of the planet's eastern gorillas (Gorilla beringei) in just the past two decades. Fewer than 5,000 still survive in the rainforests of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "To see the Eastern gorilla – one of our closest cousins – slide towards extinction is truly distressing," says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. "We live in a time of tremendous change and each IUCN Red List update makes us realise just how quickly the global extinction crisis is escalating."  

Stick Nest Rat Iucn 2016 09 06

Known for its impressive house-building skills (the tiny rats are capable of constructing stick nests up to a metre high!), the greater stick-nest rat has made a recovery thanks to intensive conservation efforts in its native Australia, including reintroductions into predator-free zones. The furry rodent is the last of its kind: its close relative – the lesser stick-nest rat – disappeared in the early 1900s, with the last recorded specimen collected in 1933 in South Australia.

Iucn Bridled Nailtail Wallaby 2016 09 06

The bridled nailtail wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) once hopped across millions of square kilometres in its native Australia, but its populations plummeted after the arrival of Europeans. By the twentieth century, sightings became so rare that the species was thought to have become extinct. Now, conservation efforts are beginning to pay off. "A successful translocation conservation programme establishing new populations within protected areas is enabling this species to commence the long road to recovery," said the ICUN in a statement.

Iucn Yellow Backed Duiker 2016 09 06

Named for the distinctive patch of yellow hair on its rump, the forest-dwelling yellow-backed duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is increasingly threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting for bushmeat. Two other duiker species on the continent – the bay duiker and white-bellied duiker – have also moved from Least Concern to Near Threatened. Within protected areas, their populations have remained stable, says the IUCN, but beyond the safety of designated reserves, their numbers are falling.   

Iucn Alula 2016 09 06

While many alula plants (Brighamia insignis) are grown in captivity, these "cabbages on a stick" have disappeared from their native Hawaii. A long-tongued moth that once pollinated alula flowers on their cliffside perches has also been lost to extinction. Back in 2014, just one plant remained in the wild, and it has not been seen since. And the alula is not the only local plant in trouble. Of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plant species assessed so far, 87% are threatened with extinction, reports the IUCN. "Invasive species such as pigs, goats, rats, slugs and non-native plants are destroying the native flora," said the group. "What we see happening in Hawaiʻi is foretelling what will happen in other island or contained ecological systems. Hawaiʻi and other nations must take urgent action to stop the spread of invasive species and to protect species with small population sizes."


Top header image: Karim Farhat, Flickr