16% of world’s dragonflies in danger of extinction

Courtesy of IUCN
This dragonfly species inhabiting the central African country of Gabon is designated as an endangered species.

Sixteen percent of dragonfly species face the risk of extinction, according to the latest edition of the Red List of Threatened Species released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Dec. 9.

The declining number of wetlands and rivers suitable for dragonflies is cited as the main cause by the IUCN. In the latest Red List, the IUCN classified 675 of the world’s 6,016 dragonfly species as endangered.

This represents 16% of the 4,285 species that excludes extinct species and those for which there is insufficient information.

The IUCN, consisting of entities such as governments and environmental organizations, is calling for the conservation of habitats and wetlands in urban areas.

In Japan, there are 180 species of dragonflies, of which 29 are designated as endangered on the Red List of the Environment Ministry. Haruki Karibe, a conservation ecologist and chief curator at the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History, expressed concern. “The waterfront environment is in decline and pesticides are being used that have a harmful impact on dragonflies,” he said.

“The situation is serious,” he added.

Meanwhile, the classification of red-crowned cranes was downgraded from endangered — the second of the three risk levels — to vulnerable, the lowest level. Red-crowned cranes are a type of crane inhabiting eastern Hokkaido and are designated as a national special natural treasure.

Although the number of red-crowned cranes had fallen sharply due to urbanization and hunting, it has recently been recovering thanks to efforts to protect them by the government, local residents and others.