Pangolin takes top spot

19 December 2012 | Article

Early in 2012, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ Facebook page was launched. Featuring a new Amazing Species every week and sharing the latest IUCN Red List news, the page is a new way for people to engage with The IUCN Red List. As the year draws to a close we have compiled a list of the five most popular posts.

First place goes to a Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) - announcing the launch of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group website. Pangolins are an unusual looking group of insect-eating mammals that are covered in scales and found in Asia and Africa. However, pangolins in Asia are threatened by poaching for illegal international trade as their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group are working to raise awareness of pangolins, carry out scientific research and develop conservation strategies.

The second most popular post is a photo of a species that looks remarkably similar to a pangolin, but in fact is not related. Curled up into a protective ball, a Three-banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) caught the attention of many people and is set to become even more famous as it has been chosen as the mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Listed as Vulnerable on The IUCN Red List, this species is threatened by heavy hunting pressure and habitat loss but it is hoped that being selected as the next FIFA World Cup mascot will help raise awareness of this species and initiate more conservation action.

On-the-ground conservation success is the focus of the third most popular post of 2012. Thanks to the efforts of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered on The IUCN Red List in October. In 2002 there were only between 10 and 25 Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas left in the wild but today there are an estimated 750 individuals and conservationists are confident that a long term goal of restoring at least 1,000 Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas to the wild will be accomplished.

Another unusual looking species took the number four spot. The Narrowsnout Sawfish (Pristis zijsron) is a marine species with a saw-like beak called a rostrum and is just one of seven species of sawfish listed on The IUCN Red List. There was once a time when so many sawfishes were caught in areas of Pakistan that people made fences with the rostrums but today all seven species are listed as Critically Endangered. In an effort to stop these spectacular species disappearing from our oceans forever the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group gathered a group of experts at the IUCN 2012 World Conservation Congress to share information about the best ways to raise awareness and implement a conservation strategy that has been developed by the Specialist Group.

An info-graphic designed by the IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group comparing a grasshopper, a katydid and a mantis to mammals is the fifth most popular post on The IUCN Red List Facebook page. The info-graphic highlights how varied and interesting invertebrates can be and includes; the Rhinoceros Katydid (Copiphora rhinoceros) which is green, eats snails and has a horn; a Monkey Grasshopper (Euschmidtia congana) with large eyes; and a Tiger Mantis (Omomantis zebrata) with stripes!

In 2013 The IUCN Red List Facebook page will continue to share the latest IUCN Red List news about animals, plants and fungi as well the best species and conservation news from IUCN and the IUCN SSC Specialist Groups. If you would like to join the IUCN Red List Facebook community, you can find us at www.facebook.com/iucn.red.list.