January 17, 2003,Human Behaviour Not Numbers: Major Threat to Species on the IUCN Red List, IUCN welcomes the discussion generated by scientists in the United States but says the changes to the Categories and Criteria for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species would be unwarranted.
In a paper published in Biological Conservation, vol 109, p.137, Alexander Harcourt and Sean Parks of the University of California advocate modifying the Red List Criteria to include local human population density and have reassessed 200 primate species from the 1996 IUCN Red List to illustrate their point. But such modification could be misleading, argues IUCN. " The Harcourt & Parks research suggests that the Gorilla should be considered a Low Risk species based on its occurrence in an area with a relatively low human population," says Caroline Pollock of the IUCN Red List Programme based in Cambridge, UK. "The human population may not be particularly large, but the effects of human activities on the Gorilla's habitat combined with poaching pressures on the species itself, are enough to push the species into the Endangered Category," she said.