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Species At Risk Of Extinction Growing

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 799 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... SPECIES FACE TOUGH FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL By Alex Kirby
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8 10:37 AM
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      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 799
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By Alex Kirby
      Monday, 7 October, 2002


      A central Asian antelope, a camel and the Iberian lynx all face a high risk
      of extinction, scientists say.

      IUCN They are now classified by the International Union for the Conservation
      of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered.

      Its updated Red List of Threatened Species says more than 11,000 creatures
      now face extinction.

      But two, an insect and a rodent, previously thought extinct, have been

      Since the last edition of the list two years ago, over 400 new species have
      been assessed.

      Dramatic decline

      Of these, 124 have joined one of the threatened categories: critically
      endangered (CR), endangered (EN), or vulnerable (VU).

      IUCN (also known as the World Conservation Union) says 11,167 species are
      now threatened with extinction, 121 more than in 2000.

      One of the three species causing IUCN particular concern is the saiga, an
      antelope found in the deserts and steppes of central Asia.

      It has suffered a major decline in the last decade, poached for both its
      meat and its horns, which are exported for use in traditional medicine.

      In 1993 the total population was estimated at over one million: by 2000 this
      had fallen to fewer than 200,000. Scientists believe under 50,000 animals
      now remain in the wild.

      Habitat fragmentation

      IUCN's director general, Achim Steiner, told BBC News Online: "This rate of
      loss is unsustainable. If nothing is done, the saiga is doomed to extinction
      in one or two decades."

      Another species, the wild Bactrian camel, is hunted partly because it
      competes with domestic camels and livestock for water and grazing, but also
      for sport.

      Its main stronghold is China, where mining is destroying its habitat. Other
      problems include the effects of hybridisation with domestic camels, and
      increased human competition.

      The plight of the third, the Iberian lynx, is dire: it may be the first wild
      cat to become extinct for at least 2,000 years. Fewer than half the 1,200
      individuals recorded 10 years ago now survive.

      The lynx lives in Mediterranean woodland, where habitat fragmentation by
      farming and industrial development means it now survives only in scattered
      groups in south-west Spain and Portugal.

      Higher listing

      The two species rediscovered after being listed as extinct are the Lord Howe
      Island stick insect, an Australian species, and the Bavarian pine vole, from

      Other species of concern include:

      - the Ethiopian water mouse (critically endangered), known from a single
      specimen found near a tributary of the Blue Nile in north-west Ethiopia --
      its habitat may be overgrazed by livestock

      - the tiger tail seahorse (vulnerable) is caught for medicinal and aquarium

      - the slender-billed and Indian vultures are both classified as critically
      endangered because they have suffered extremely rapid population declines,
      particularly in south Asia. Suspected causes include disease, poisoning,
      pesticide use and changes in the processing of dead livestock.

      IUCN has upgraded several species to a higher threat category, because it
      now judges them more vulnerable.

      They include three birds: the Titicaca flightless grebe, the black-browed
      albatross, and the blue duck of New Zealand.

      In 2000, 5,611 plants were assessed as threatened. With the addition of
      Mexican and Brazilian cactus assessments, the figure is now 5,714.

      But with only about 4% of the world's described plants evaluated, IUCN says,
      the true percentage of threatened species is much higher.

      The 2000 Red List said the extinction crisis was as bad as many people
      feared, with some "dramatic" population declines.

      Achim Steiner told BBC News Online: "This update reaffirms the basic trends
      identified then.

      "It is a very serious situation indeed -- it's a severe warning that we have
      no reason to say things are turning round.

      "The resources we have to compile the list are absolutely inadequate. It is
      people like birdwatchers and other nature lovers who generate an enormous
      amount of data voluntarily that are the heart and soul of the conservation

      "And there are the people in places like Africa who have no binoculars, but
      use wildlife every day. We count on them too."


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