A team led by Barbara Goettsch of the IUCN’s Cactus and Succulent Plant Specialist Group analyzed the cacti’s distributions, population trends, habitat preferences, ecology, conservation actions, and human uses and found that of the 1,480 known species of cactus found on the planet, an estimated 31% are threatened. These species have been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, a global species conservation database of plants, animals, and fungi. Half of the threatened species of cactus were found to have been affected by illegal trade for horticulture and private collections as well as livestock ranching and agriculture. Goettsch said, “They are also very slow-growing species, so this makes them particularly vulnerable to disturbance.” Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, added that the findings “confirm that the scale of the illegal wildlife trade—including trade in plants—is much greater than we had previously thought.”
Read more in The Scientist.