The African okapi — the closet living relative of the giraffe — heads this year’s Red List, an international accounting of species threatened with extinction.
The okapi — sometimes called a forest giraffe — lives in the rain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poaching, habitat loss and ongoing civil war have pushed the distinctly striped animal to the brink of extinction in the wild.
The Red List is compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which assessed more than 71,000 species around the world and classified more than 21,000 as being threatened or endangered.
The oakpi is an iconic symbol in Congo and appears on the country’s banknotes. The IUCN found that in addition to being hunted for its meat and hide, okapi are poached by rebels and illegal miners, who are also degrading the animal's habitat.
The updated list also named some 200 bird species as critically endangered, including the white-winged flufftail, a small shy bird found in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The flufftail, too, is in decline because of habitat destruction, wetland drainage and livestock overgrazing, the report found.
The analysis did find some success stories. The island fox that is native to the Channel Islands is recovering, the report said, as are two species of albatross and the leatherback turtle.
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