before it's in the papers"
August 03, 2010
TO THE WORLD SCIENCE HOME PAGE
Polar bears, hippos join list of threatened species
and World Science staff
Polar bears, hippopotomuses and desert gazelles have joined a list of threatened species published by the World Conservation Union, a Geneva-based network of scientists and environmental groups.
The number of known species facing extinction has reached 16,119, according to the organization, and also includes ocean sharks, freshwater fish and Mediterranean flowers. One in three amphibians, a quarter of the world’s coniferous trees, one in eight birds and one in four mammals are in jeopardy, officials of the organization said.
The group’s annual Red List of Threatened Species “brings into sharp focus the ongoing decline of the earth’s biodiversity and the impact mankind is having upon life on earth,” the organization said in a statement May 2.
Human-induced global warming, unregulated hunting and fishing and deforestation are among the chief culprits, officials of the organization added. For instance, global warming is believed to be melting the ice on which polar bears live.
“Biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,” said Achim Steiner, the group’s director general. “The implications of this trend for the productivity and resilience of ecosystems and the lives and livelihoods of billions of people who depend on them are far-reaching.”
“Reversing this trend is possible, as numerous conservation success stories have proven,” he added. Recent conservation actions have helped the white-tailed eagle and offers a glimmer of hope to Indian vultures, according to the group.
“To succeed on a global scale, we need new alliances across all sectors of society. Biodiversity cannot be saved by environmentalists alone – it must become the responsibility of everyone with the power and resources to act.”
The 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 about 40,000 species. It is designed to identify and document the species most in need of conservation attention and provide an index of the state of biodiversity.
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