Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 18, 2018

Contact: Alejandro Olivera, +521 (612) 140-4974,

Vaquita, Turtles, Wolves Among Mexico's Top 10 Most Iconic Endangered Species

Status of More Than 2,600 Other Mexican Endangered Species Unknown

LA PAZ, Mexico— The Center for Biological Diversity today released a report highlighting the 10 most iconic endangered species in Mexico. The report, coinciding with Earth Day, calls for better protection for these animals and plants. It also urges the Mexican government to launch a new push to better understand the status of more than 2,600 other endangered species around the country.

Mexico’s top 10 iconic endangered species are the vaquita porpoise, leatherback sea turtle, Mexican gray wolf, ajolote salamander, scarlet macaw, monarch butterfly, elkhorn coral, sea cucumber, white nun orchid and jaguar.

“Some of Mexico’s most colorful and treasured species are being driven to the brink of extinction, and they desperately need our help,” said Alejandro Olivera, the Center’s representative in Mexico. “Around the world dozens of species are going extinct every day, and Mexico is no exception. Saving these species requires real change, including protecting them from habitat loss, climate change and illegal trade.”

These iconic species are listed on the Official Mexican Standard NOM059-SEMARNAT-2010 (NOM059) — but the list hasn’t been updated for nearly a decade. Because of those delays, the status of more than 2,600 other Mexican plants and animals is unknown. The administration of President Peña Nieto has not published an update so far in his six-year term.

“The government of Mexico needs to take the threat of species extinction seriously, and that should start with looking at the status of plant and animals around the country,” Olivera said. “If this extinction crisis continues, we’ll continue to see species vanish every year, robbing future generations of Mexico’s rich natural heritage.”

Highlights from today’s report:

  • Fewer than 30 vaquita porpoises remain today due to entanglement in fishing gear; without stronger protections and enforcement, the vaquita may be extinct by 2021.
  • Mexico’s endangered leatherback sea turtles suffered a 97 percent decline in recent years and are threatened by plastics in the ocean, which the animals confuse for jellyfish and consume.
  • The ajolote salamander, a bizarre creature found only in Mexico City’s lakes, is threatened by sewage disposal and habitat loss, including construction of the new Mexico City international airport.
  • The brown sea cucumber population’s status is currently unknown, and despite signs of overexploitation and its prohibition for commercial fisheries, SEMARNAT has been issuing permits each year allowing the take of tens of thousands of sea cucumbers.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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