From the tops of trees to the depths of the oceans, humanity’s destruction of wildlife is continuing to drive many species towards extinction, with the latest “red list” showing a third of all species assessed are threatened.
The razing of habitat and hunting for bushmeat has now driven seven primates into decline, while overfishing has pushed two families of extraordinary rays to the brink. Pollution, dams and over-abstraction of freshwater are responsible for serious declines in river wildlife from Mexico to Japan, while illegal logging is ravaging Madagascar’s rosewoods and disease is decimating the American elm.
The red list, produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the most authoritative assessment of the status of species. The list published on Thursday adds almost 9,000 new species, bringing the total to 105,732, though this is a fraction of the millions of species thought to live on Earth. Not a single species was recorded as having improved in status.
A landmark planetary health check published in May concluded that human civilisation was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems. Wildlife populations have plunged by 60% since 1970 and plant extinctions are running at a “frightening” rate, according to scientists.
“Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history,” said Jane Smart, director of the IUCN biodiversity conservation group. She said decisive action was needed to halt the decline, with next year’s UN biodiversity convention summit in China seen as crucial. [Continue reading…]