Thursday, October 09, 2008

Threatened Extinctions: the news isn't good

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes an annual assessment of species under threat, called the Red List.
This year, the IUCN examined 44,838 species. Of these, 16,928 are in trouble. Despite some bright spots, such as an improvement in the African elephant's numbers, the number of endangered species has reached a new high. It has reached a new high every time the report has been issued. It's not always clear which species are worse off than a year ago and which ones make the list "merely" because we have better information about them. Almost a quarter of the world's mammals are subjects of concern, according to this inventory.
COMMENT: It's all (or mostly) about habitat. Even direct threats, like the African bushmeat trade, would be lessened if there was more habitat for animals to retreat and hide in, further from human encroachment. There are no easy answers, especially in desperately poor nations, but most of the questions, in my view, have always pointed to the need for a global effort to increase the protected habitat set aside for plants and animals. That does not rule out regulated hunting or other limited human uses of some protected areas, but it means conservation has to be the top concern in managing habitat of threatened species.

THANKS TO Kris Winkler for this item.

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