Conservation in Action

Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity

On International Day for Biological Diversity IUCN celebrates successful conservation action with images and stories of 11 species and the conservation efforts underway to improve their conservation status. From the Lebanese cedar to the greater bamboo lemur, these stories prove that conservation action does work. About two million species have been identified and described so far, but scientists believe that this is only a fraction of the global total. About 5% of known species are assessed on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which provides comprehensive information about their conservation status and guides conservation action globally.

The Critically Endangered Archery's Frog ( Leiopelma archeyi) is endemic to New Zealand. This photo was taken during a regular survey of the population in the Coromandel Peninsula. This population declined by over 80% between 1996 and 2001, and has since suffered from dangerously low population levels. The species has undergone considerable conservation management and the IUCN Red List now considers the current population trend 'stable’. Conservation measures include implementing hygiene protocols, habitat management, protection from mining, translocations and predator control.

The Endangered Mauritius kestrel ( Falco punctatus) was the world's rarest bird in 1974 with only four known birds, including one breeding female, and was close to extinction. Conservation efforts have included captive breeding, supplementary feeding, nest-site enhancement and predator control.  Today, with a population of about 400 birds, this conservation achievement is regarded as one of the most successful bird restoration projects in the world.

The Endangered Rodrigues Fruit Bat ( Pteropus rodricensis) used to be found on Mauritius and Rodrigues, but is now found only on Rodrigues, in the western Indian Ocean. It is often known as the Golden Fruit Bat. In the 1970s, the population dwindled to between 70 and 100 individuals but has now recovered to over 25,000, largely due to increased forest cover and protection. The bats are regularly counted by Mauritian Wildlife Foundation staff and volunteers, in order to assess the impact of weather, including droughts, on their numbers.

Orangutans are among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction by unsustainable oil palm plantations, which are wiping out huge areas of rainforest. The Sumatran Orangutan ( Pongo abelii) is Critically Endangered, with only about one-third (36%) of the species population living in protected areas. The Sumatran Orangutan is protected by Indonesian National Law. Chester Zoo are now striving to make Chester, UK, the world's first 'Sustainable Palm Oil City’ to help protect rainforest across South East Asia and prevent the extinction of orangutans.

The Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus) is an endangered monotypic species found only in isolated pockets of Madagascar's eastern rainforests. Once thought to be extinct, it was 'rediscovered' in 1986 in the Ranomafana region of southeast Madagascar. It is a bamboo specialist, with a strong dependence on giant bamboo. Threatened by habitat destruction and hunting, it has been the subject of intense conservation measures, including work with local communities, and these have had positive results. It is found in several protected areas, including Ranomafana National Park (the creation of which was stimulated by the species’ discovery there more than 30 years ago), Andringitra National Park, Mantadia National Park, and especially the Kianjavato region, which appears to have the largest known population. The IUCN SOS Programme also runs conservation projects for the Greater Bamboo Lemur. 

This photograph was taken in Meinypil'gyno, Russia, where a small number of Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpipers ( Calidris pygmaea) return annually during the brief summer. Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s (WWT) Roland Digby has visited the site in Meinypil’gyno each year since 2012 to 'headstart’ young spoon-billed sandpipers. At the time, this was the only know spoon-billed sandpiper breeding ground, and the entire global population was estimated to have fallen to fewer than 200 pairs due to the steady reclamation of coastal habitat along their flyway, and the impact of bird trapping. The ‘headstarting’ programme, which was funded by the IUCN SOS programme, was set up to buy the species some time while the threats were addressed. By taking eggs into captivity and hatching and rearing them in safety from predators and the elements, more than three fledglings per pair could be raised. Well over 100 spoon-billed sandpipers have been raised and released this way. They are fitted with engraved leg tags to monitor their survival and movements. Many of the ‘headstarted’ birds have returned to Meinypil’gyno to pair up and breed.

The Vulnerable Lebanese cedar (Cedrus Libani) is culturally important, being featured on the national flag, national currency and on Government logos. It is also a feature of books, poetry and is used in craft. Conservation measures include extensive planting projects and education projects about the protected area. This photograph was taken in the Al-Shouf Ceder Nature Reserve, which accounts for a quarter of the remaining cedar forest in Lebanon. The Nature Reserve is part of the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas programme. This programme aims to encourage, achieve and promote protected areas all over the world and improve the conservation status of the species that dwell within them.

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are protected by international and national policies. In Australia, a Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles is working to improve the conservation status of this Endangered species through research and monitoring (tagging and satellite tracking). Studies in feeding and nesting sites are also conducted. This photograph was taken in the waters offshore from Arakwal National Park, Australia. The National Park is part of the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas programme. This programme aims to encourage, achieve and promote effective Protected Areas all over the world and improve the conservation status of the species that dwell within them.

The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme was started in 1990 and now is a collaborative initiative between the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and Cayman Islands Department of Environment. Starting with less than a dozen captive individuals, there are now approximately 1,000 individuals residing in nature reserves on Grand Cayman. Since the start of the project, the endemic Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) has become a national symbol and the species was reclassified from 'Critically Endangered' to 'Endangered' in 2012. This is directly attributed to the phenomenal efforts of multiple organisations and volunteers involved in the programme over the years.

The Endangered Mauritius Fody, ( Foudia rubra) is a small endemic songbird that was once common in the forests of Mauritius. Due to habitat loss and nest predation, it became restricted to a small range within the Black River Gorges National Park. The population was estimated to be less than 200 birds in 1993. Since then the population has increased and the Ile aux Aigrettes nature reserve now has a population of 300 birds.

The Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) is Africa's most endangered carnivore, and arguably the most endangered canid in the world. Listed as Endangered, this charismatic and elusive species exists only in the highlands of Ethiopia. This species has benefited greatly from conservation efforts, and its largest population occurs in the Bale Mountains of southern Ethiopia where over 200 individuals are actively managed by the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Project (EWCP) and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Society. EWCP wolf trackers monitor individual and pack activity nearly 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Thanks to conservation efforts, much of the Ethiopian Wolf’s existing habitat is now preserved, and public awareness has caused threats from hunting to subside. In recent years, some populations have declined by as much as 30% due to disease spread by domestic dogs, so it is still critically important that conservation efforts continue.