The African elephant has been “upgraded” to “near threatened from the bleaker “vulnerable” list. And that’s about the rosiest take from the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, where the annual Red List oof Endangered Species was announced. The grabber this year is that one in four mammals is threatened due to habitat loss, hunting, and global warming.

The Congress also issued the reminder of why 2008 has been called the Year of the Frog and why Amphibian Ark was created: at least one-third (most say up to one-half) of amphibian species could go extinct in our lifetime unless emergency measures are taken. Here’s the excerpt from The New York Times:

“Although 5 percent of mammals are recovering, what we observe are rates of habitat loss and hunting in Southeast Asia, Central Africa and Central and South America that are so serious that the overall rate of decline has steadily increased during the past decade,” Mr. Schipper said.

Amphibians, too, are facing an extinction crisis, with at least 33 percent either threatened or extinct, the I.U.C.N. reported.

Holdridge’s toad, found only in Costa Rica, was declared extinct. The Cuban crocodile, illegally hunted for its meat and skin, was moved to the critically endangered category.

Making the list for the first time were Indian tarantulas, highly prized by collectors and threatened by the international pet trade. The Rameshwaram parachute spider, whose habitat has been eroded by new roads, was found to be critically endangered. The spiders’ “natural habitat has been almost completely destroyed,” the group said.

Not every part of the report was bleak. The African elephant was removed from the vulnerable list and was listed as “near threatened,” although its status varied depending on location. The I.U.C.N. said increases in the population of the elephants in southern and eastern Africa were big enough to offset any decreases taking place elsewhere.

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