A South African grasshopper species that has only been documented three times in the past 118 years has been added to the global list of endangered species.

The species of bladder grasshopper, Physemacris papillosa, was added to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered.

“It’s endemic to South Africa where it has a small geographic distribution along the southern Cape coastline,” says the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which was published this week.

“This is an extremely rare species and it is likely to be declining.

“It has been documented only three times in the past 118 years in an area which has been extensively surveyed.”

Potential threats to the insect include habitat destruction because of agriculture (livestock farming) and urban development, and climate change leading to increased droughts.

“The distribution of this grasshopper is believed to be restricted by moisture availability, so an increasingly dry climate will negatively impact the species. Furthermore, it will result in loss or change of vegetation type and thus reduced availability of host plants on which the species depends.”

The IUCN Red List now includes 93577 species, of which 26197 are threatened with extinction.

“The update reveals the onslaught of threats our planet’s biodiversity is facing,” said IUCN director general Inger Andersen.

“Invasive species, changes to fire patterns, cyclones and human-wildlife conflict are some of the threats wreaking havoc on our planet’s ecosystems. “As species from Mauritius to Australia slip towards extinction, we risk losing a part of our culture and our identity, as well as the life-supporting benefits these species provide by pollinating our crops or preserving healthy soils.”

This year’s global assessment revealed how Australia’s unique reptiles face severe threats from invasive species and climate change, with 7% of them threatened with extinction.

“The Mauritian Flying Fox, an important pollinator, is now listed as endangered due to a culling campaign.

“There is some good news after the rediscovery of four South American amphibian species previously thought to be extinct.”

Its data showed how over 100 insect species from the Portuguese islands of the Azores were assessed with 74% threatened with extinction.

The IUCN Red List found that the Aquilaria malaccensis tree, which produces one of the world’s most valued woods for perfumery, moved from vulnerable to critically endangered as logging and deforestation caused populations to decline by more than 80% over the past 150 years.

“Agarwood develops in the core of some Aquilaria trees after they are infected by a mould and the tree produces a fragrant, dark resin as a defence mechanism against the infection.

“It is difficult to tell which wild trees contain agarwood, leading poachers to cut down large numbers of trees in search of the precious wood.” 

The Saturday Star