HomeWeather28% of 138,000 assessed species now face extinction: Conservation body

28% of 138,000 assessed species now face extinction: Conservation body

About 28% of the 138,000 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at risk of vanishing in the wild forever, as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world deepens, the global conservation body said on Saturday at a global conference aimed at protecting dwindling species.

Habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal trade have hammered global wildlife populations for decades, and climate change is now kicking in as a direct threat as well, the IUCN Congress, taking place in the French city of Marseille, reported.

In the latest update of the Red List for Threatened Species, the Komodo dragon is now listed as endangered, notably because of rising sea levels and rising temperatures in its Indonesian habitat. Ebonies and rosewoods threatened by logging were among trees put on the list for the first time this year.

The IUCN also expressed concern for sharks and rays, which are faring less well than tuna as 37% of sharks and rays now face extinction compared with 33% of amphibians, 26% of mammals and 12% of birds.

But the Red List also highlights the potential for restoration, with four commercially-fished tuna species pulling back from a slide towards extinction after a decade of efforts to curb overexploitation. The Atlantic bluefin tuna leapt from “endangered” across three categories to the safe zone of “least concern” from 2011.

The IUCN Red List Unit reassesses hundreds of species each year. Of the 138,374 species the group tracks, more than 38,000 are threatened with extinction. Efforts to halt extensive declines in numbers and diversity of animals and plants have largely failed.

In 2019 the UN’s biodiversity experts warned that a million species are on the brink of extinction – raising the spectre that the planet is on the verge of its sixth mass extinction event in 500 million years.

“The red list status shows that we’re on the cusp of the sixth extinction event,” the IUCN’s Head of Red List Unit Craig Hilton-Taylor told AFP.

“If the trends carry on going upward at that rate, we’ll be facing a major crisis soon.”

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