List of endangered species growing fast


Gland (Switzerland) : Life on the Earth is disappearing fast, with one in four mammals and one third of all amphibians in jeopardy, according to an annual survey published Wednesday.

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Conservation measures had made only a limited impact, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has found.

The Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the IUCN now includes 41,415 species, 16,306 of them threatened with extinction, an increase of 88 from the previous year.

Along with threat to mammals and amphibians, one in eight bird species and 70 per cent of the world’s assessed plants are also at risk.

“The rate of biodiversity loss is increasing and we need to act now to significantly reduce it and stave off this global extinction crisis,” IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre said.

The great ape, one of man’s closest relatives, had shifted from Endangered to Critically Endangered status with the discovery that two thirds of the Western Lowland Gorilla had been wiped out by the commercial bush meat trade in the past 20-25 years and by the Ebola virus.

The Yangtze River Dolphin has been listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), though further surveys were needed before it could be re-classed as Extinct.

The Sumatran Orangutan remains in the Critically Endangered category and the Bornean Orangutan in the Endangered category as a result of loss of habitat through illegal and legal logging.

The Gharial crocodile found in India and Nepal had also moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered list. The population had fallen by 58 per cent from 436 breeding adults in 1997 to 182 in 2006 as a result of damaging irrigation projects.

Nearly 10,000 birds appear on the list, with 1,217 listed as threatened. Vultures in Africa and Asia have declined with five species reclassified.

More than 12,000 plants are included, with 8,447 listed as threatened.

According to the survey, only one species had moved to a lower category of threat, the Mauritius Echo Parakeet had shifted from Critically Endangered to Endangered as a result of conservation action.

This one achievement was a disappointing tally for conservationists, said Jean-Christophe Vié of IUCN’s species programme.

“This is really worrying in light of government commitments around the world, such as the 2010 target to slow down biodiversity loss,” he said.