36% of World's Flora and Fauna Now Threatened With Extinction


The monitor lizard is under threat due to habitat loss and hunting by humans for food. All images: ICUN.

The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is in and if you were expecting good news prepared to be disappointed. Of the more than 47,000 species surveyed, about 17,000 are at serious risk -- of those 21% of the world's mammal species, 12% of birds, 28% of reptiles, 30% of amphibians, 35% of invertebrates, 37% of freshwater fish and 70% of plants:Jane Smart, director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group says there is mounting evidence that we are in the midst of a serious extinction crisis.

January sees the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity. The latest analysis of the IUCN Red List shows the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity loss will not be met. It's time for governments to start getting serious about saving species and make sure it's high on their agendas for next year, as we're rapidly running out of time.


One species which has entered the ranks of the extinct in the wild is the Kihansi Spray Toad, pictured above. At one time it had a population about at least 17,000 at the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania. However a dam upstream of the falls reduced water flow downstream by 90%, reducing habitat. It is suspected that a fungal disease finally doomed these amphibians.

Of the plants on the list, the Queen of the Andes (above) remains classified as endangered. Found in the Andes mountains in Peru and Bolivia, it only produces seeds once every 80 years, and then dies. Climate change is already impairing its ability to flower, while cattle ranching is also having a negative impact in some areas.

More info: International Union for Conservation of Nature
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Tags: Animals | Conservation | Endangered Species