[MARMAM] EXTINCTION CRISIS ESCALATES-2007 IUCN RED LIST

Jay Miller jmiller123 at cox.net
Wed Sep 12 15:07:30 PDT 2007


The 2007 IUCN Red List has been issued, and the news is grim.  
Extinction crisis escalates: Red List shows apes, corals, vultures,  
dolphins all in danger

2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the world’s most  
authoritative assessment of the Earth’s plants and animals, acts as  
a wake up call on the global extinction crisis
74 seaweeds have been added to the IUCN Red List from the Galápagos  
Islands. Ten species are listed as Critically Endangered, with six of  
those highlighted as Possibly Extinct. The cold water species are  
threatened by climate change and the rise in sea temperature that  
characterizes El Niño. The seaweeds are also indirectly affected by  
overfishing, which removes predators from the food chain, resulting  
in an increase of sea urchins and other herbivores that overgraze  
these algae.

Yangtze River Dolphin listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)

After an intensive, but fruitless, search for the Yangtze River  
Dolphin, or Baiji, (Lipotes vexillifer) last November and December,  
it has been listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). The  
dolphin has not been placed in a higher category as further surveys  
are needed before it can be definitively classified as Extinct. A  
possible sighting reported in late August 2007 is currently being  
investigated by Chinese scientists. The main threats to the species  
include fishing, river traffic, pollution and degradation of habitat.

India and Nepal’s crocodile, the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is  
also facing threats from habitat degradation and has moved from  
Endangered to Critically Endangered. Its population has recently  
declined by 58%, from 436 breeding adults in 1997 to just 182 in  
2006. Dams, irrigation projects, sand mining and artificial  
embankments have all encroached on its habitat, reducing its domain  
to 2% of its former range.

Banggai Cardinalfish heavily exploited by aquarium trade

Overfishing continues to put pressure on many fish species, as does  
demand from the aquarium trade. The Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon  
kauderni), which is highly prized in the aquarium industry, is  
entering the IUCN Red List for the first time in the Endangered  
category. The fish, which is only found in the Banggai Archipelago,  
near Sulawesi, Indonesia, has been heavily exploited, with  
approximately 900,000 extracted every year. Conservationists are  
calling for the fish to be reared in captivity for the aquarium  
trade, so the wild populations can be left to recover.

These highlights from the 2007 IUCN Red List are merely a few  
examples of the rapid rate of biodiversity loss around the world. The  
disappearance of species has a direct impact on people’s lives.  
Declining numbers of freshwater fish, for example, deprive rural poor  
communities not only of their major source of food, but of their  
livelihoods as well.

For information about more species on this year’s IUCN Red List  
please visit www.iucn.org/redlist and www.iucnredlist.org

A full 2007 IUCN Red List media package is available, including photo  
gallery, two-minute video B roll, species changes, fact sheets on key  
species, case studies and statistics

2 minute video B roll and photo gallery of the IUCN Red List of  
Threatened Species prepared by Arkive www.arkive.org

For more information / interviews with leading IUCN spokespeople  
please contact:

Lynette Lew, IUCN Marketing and Communications Officer, Species  
Programme, Tel: +41 22 999 0153; Mob: +41 79 527 7221; Fax: +41 22  
999 0015; Email: lynette.lewiucn.org ; Web: www.iucn.org

Sarah Halls, IUCN Media Relations Officer, Tel: +41 22 999 0127; Mob:  
+41 79 24 72 926; Fax: +41 22 999 0020; Email: sarah.hallsiucn.org;  
Web: www.iucn.org

Craig Hilton-Taylor and Caroline Pollock, IUCN Red List Unit, Tel +44  
1223 277 966;
Fax: +44 1223 277-845; Email: caroline.pollockssc-uk.org and  
craig.hilton-taylorssc-uk.org; Web: www.iucnredlist.org

Additional information

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies species according  
to their extinction risk. It is a searchable online database  
containing the global status and supporting information on more than  
41,000 species. Its primary goal is to identify and document the  
species most in need of conservation attention and provide an index  
of the state of biodiversity.
The IUCN Red List threat categories are the following, in descending  
order of threat:
Extinct or Extinct in the Wild;
Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable: species threatened  
with global extinction;
Near Threatened: species close to the threatened thresholds or that  
would be threatened without ongoing specific conservation measures;
Least Concern: species evaluated with a low risk of extinction;
Data Deficient: no evaluation because of insufficient data.
Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct): This is not a new Red List  
category, but is a flag developed to identify those Critically  
Endangered species that are in all probability already Extinct but  
for which confirmation is required (for example, through more  
extensive surveys being carried out and failing to find any  
individuals).
The total number of species on the planet is unknown; estimates vary  
between 10 - 100 million, with 15 million species being the most  
widely accepted figure. 1.7 - 1.8 million species are known today.
People, either directly or indirectly, are the main reason for most  
species’ decline. Habitat destruction and degradation continues to  
be the main cause of species’ decline, along with the all too  
familiar threats of introduced invasive species, unsustainable  
harvesting, over-hunting, pollution and disease. Climate change is  
increasingly recognized as a serious threat, which can magnify these  
dangers.
Major analyses of the IUCN Red List are produced every four years.  
These were produced in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  The 2004 Global Species  
Assessment is available from:  http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/ 
red_list_2004/2004home.htm
Key findings from major analyses to date include:
The number of threatened species is increasing across almost all the  
major taxonomic groups.
IUCN Red List Indices, a new tool for measuring trends in extinction  
risk are important for monitoring progress towards the 2010 target.  
They are available for birds and amphibians and show that their  
status has declined steadily since the 1980s. An IUCN Red List Index  
can be calculated for any group which has been assessed at least twice.
Most threatened birds, mammals and amphibians are located on the  
tropical continents – the regions that contain the tropical  
broadleaf forests which are believed to harbour the majority of the  
Earth’s terrestrial and freshwater species.
Of the countries assessed, Australia, Brazil, China and Mexico hold  
particularly large numbers of threatened species.
Estimates vary greatly, but current extinction rates are at least  
100-1,000 times higher than natural background rates.
The vast majority of extinctions since 1500 AD have occurred on  
oceanic islands, but over the last 20 years, continental extinctions  
have become as common as island extinctions.
All IUCN Red List updates contribute to a worldwide biodiversity  
assessment. Work is underway to reassess the status of all mammals  
(approximately 6,000 species) and birds (approximately 10,000  
species) and to assess for the first time all reptiles (approximately  
8,000 species) and freshwater fish (approximately 13,000 species).  
The first global assessment of all amphibians (approximately 6,000  
species) was completed in 2004.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is a joint effort between  
IUCN and its Species Survival Commission www.iucn.org/themes/ssc,  
working with its Red List partners BirdLife International  
www.birdlife.org, Conservation International’s Center for Applied  
Biodiversity Science www.conservation.org, NatureServe  
www.natureserve.org, and the Zoological Society of London www.zsl.org.
About The World Conservation (IUCN)

Created in 1948, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together  
84 States, 108 government agencies, 800 plus NGOs, and some 10,000  
scientists and experts from 147 countries in a unique worldwide  
partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and  
assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and  
diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources  
is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The Union is the world's largest environmental knowledge network and  
has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national  
conservation and biodiversity strategies. The Union is a  
multicultural, multilingual organization with 1,000 staff located in  
62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.
www.iucn.org

About the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Species Programme

The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six  
volunteer commissions with a global membership of 7,000 experts. SSC  
advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and  
scientific aspects of species conservation and is dedicated to  
securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into  
the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.
www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/

The IUCN Species Programme supports the activities of the IUCN  
Species Survival Commission and individual Specialist Groups, as well  
as implementing global species conservation initiatives. It is an  
integral part of the IUCN Secretariat and is managed from IUCN’s  
international headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. The Species  
Programme includes a number of technical units covering Species Trade  
and Use, the Red List Unit, Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments Unit,  
(all located in Cambridge, UK), and the Global Biodiversity  
Assessment Unit (located in Washington DC, USA).
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