IUCN Red List Category:
In the same 20 minutes, we will destroy 1,200 acres of forest and emit 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere worldwide. Less forest cover means fewer acres of habitat for species and more climate-changing carbon in the atmosphere. As climate, landscapes, and oceans change, species must move or adapt.
Those that can’t simply die out.
IUCN - The World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) has for more than four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.
15,589 species are known to be threatened with extinction.
1.9 million species have been described out of an estimated 5–30 million species that exist.
In the last 500 years, human activity has forced 844 species to extinction (or extinction in the wild).
One in every four mammals and one in every eight birds is facing a high risk of extinction in the near future.
One in three amphibians and almost half of all tortoises and freshwater turtles are threatened.
The current species extinction rate is estimated to exceed the natural or ‘background’ rate by 100 to a 1,000 times.
Of the 129 recorded bird extinctions, 103 are known to have occurred since 1800, indicating an extinction rate 50 times that of the background rate.
The total number of threatened animal species has increased from 5,205 to 7,266 since 1996.
Habitat loss and degradation affect 86% of all threatened birds, 86% of mammals, and 88% of threatened amphibians.
All 21 species of albatross are now under threat globally, compared to only 3 in 1996, as a result of long-line fishing. By-catch threatens 83 species of bird.
The world is, and always has been, in a state of flux. Even the land beneath our feet is constantly on the move. Over hundreds of millions of years, continents have broken apart, oceans appeared, mountains formed and worn inexorably away.
The entire basis of organic evolution is underpinned by the appearance of some species and the disappearance of others; extinction is therefore a natural process.
The rapid loss of species that we are witnessing today is estimated by some experts to be between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the “background” or expected natural extinction rate (this is a highly conservative estimate: some studies estimate current extinction rates as 1,000–11,000 times background rates). Unlike the mass-extinction events of geological history, the current extinction phenomenon is one for which a single species - ours - appears to be almost wholly responsible. Such a deteriorating situation is being referred to as “the sixth extinction crisis”, after the five known extinction waves in the Ordovican, Devonian, Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous Periods.
SIGN THE PETITIONS
26.05.2010 Wildlife trade in Iraq
BAGHDAD — A dozen fluffy white kittens with piercing blue eyes frolic in a wire cage, perched perilously atop a pen containing two African lion cubs. Neighborhood schoolchildren stop to feed sunflower seeds to a chained monkey, while three red foxes cower in their curbside enclosure from the street noise.
Iraqis can get just about whatever animals they want, whether as pets, novelties or status symbols or for a private zoo — and as violence subsides many are stocking up at Baghdad's several pet markets.
The lack of government regulation means animals like lions and crocodiles are going home with people unequipped to take care of them.
"There is no wildlife legislation here in Iraq, and that is what encourages these kinds of dealers to export and import wild species," said Omar Fadil, of the conservation organization Nature Iraq.
"Do people have the ability to raise a lion in their home, or a vulture or a pelican?" he said. "There is a big gap in understanding wildlife in Iraq. They take it as a cub but after it becomes big and starts to attack people I don't know where the animal goes, and the concern is that they're killing them."
Crowds flock to the exotic animal market in northwestern Baghdad, which doubles as a zoo for neighborhood families.
There is no fee to go in and look at the scores of animals — pelicans, peacocks, wolves, cats, monkeys, a porcupine, an owl, bear cubs and a dizzying array of dogs — and for the right price, you can take any one of them home with you. For about $8 you can have a duckling or a bunny; for $6,000 one of the lion cubs.
Another major open-air pet market about 3 miles (5 kilometers) away used to be targeted regularly by insurgents. But crowds there have now grown from about 4,000 to double that every Friday when the market is held, Fadil said. Rich sheiks who used to spend their time hunkered down in their heavily fortified compounds now buy exotic pets to entertain themselves. More private zoos are sprouting up as well.
Many animals are likely being illegally imported into Iraq with forged papers or bribes to border officials, Fadil said.
The government acknowledges the problem, but an immediate solution is unlikely, said Environment Ministry official Ziad Ameer Salman.
Current laws governing wildlife date back to the 1970s or earlier, and under the regime of Saddam Hussein many dealers were given permits to sell wild animals, which are still valid.
The Agriculture Ministry this year proposed a new conservation law, but it has taken a back seat to March's inconclusive elections, the transfer of security from American to Iraqi forces and scores of other issues, Salman said.
"We need a strong legislation and a strong law," he said. "But we need time because the members of parliament are changing, the government of Iraq is changing."
These are common problems in any unstable country devastated by war where law enforcement authorities have a difficult enough time trying to protect people, let alone animals, said Leigh Henry, senior policy officer on species conservation for the World Wildlife Fund.
She cited examples in Afghanistan, where the WWF discovered snow leopard pelts were being exported, and Congo, where troops were illegally killing hippos to eat and to sell their teeth as ivory.
"Wildlife is often seen as a status symbol, and where wealth and opportunity exist, people will collect — whether it be reptiles, big cats, great apes, or rare orchids," she said.
At the pet market, store owner Sabah al-Azawi said he gets his animals from all around the country, though primarily from northern Iraq. Some are brought in from outside — the lion cubs came in from Turkey for example — but al-Azawi said he doesn't ask questions about their provenance.
"This is not my business," he said.
Though the cages at his store are cramped, they are all are shaded and regularly cleaned, the animals are given a plentiful supply of water, and none of them appeared to be endangered species. He said a vet regularly checks the animals, and when he sells an exotic pet to someone he gives detailed instructions on how to care for it.
Scores of neighborhood children and others come by daily to gawk.
"We come here every day when we have some extra time. My family got our dog here," said 13-year-old Mohammad Marwan, who stopped by for a visit recently on his way to school.
Al-Azawi said that for him, running the shop is not about getting rich.
"This is my hobby, just to be among these animals I am happy," al-Azawi said after climbing into the lions' cage to feed them ground beef out of his hands.
Still, he said everything is for sale, including two 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) Nile crocodiles he keeps at home.
"I got them for myself, but anyone who comes through I say 'I have a crocodile in my house,' and I'll sell it to him if the deal is good," he said.
Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this story.
04.05.2009 Making trade bans on endangered species work
New research suggests that socio-economic considerations as well as biological and trade criteria need to be taken into account in the implementation of international trade agreements. The research focuses on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which is the largest international agreement on species conservation.
CITES is implemented through several EU regulations1. It regulates trade in species and their derivative products (such as ivory or skin) through permits and certificates. It is designed to protect biodiversity and reduce extinction and covers over 30,000 species. Despite this, trade in some of these species continues, partly because much biodiversity in developing countries is outside protected areas. For example, in southern Africa, some 80 per cent of potential elephant range is outside protected areas.
Effective conservation is based on the concept of sustainability. At a basic level sustainable conservation means that the use and trade of endangered species can continue if it does not affect the conservation status of that species. However, both traditions and poverty in developing countries may mean that the use of some protected species is not a matter of choice.
The study identifies problems with the implementation of CITES in developing countries, but also finds that these mainly result from a lack of local community involvement. There is a need for education, appropriate national legislation (only 6 southern African countries have this in place) and economic incentives.
In the past, CITES trade bans have sometimes pushed trade underground and increased the value of products from affected species. For example, a total ban has produced some detrimental results for species such as the elephant, black rhino, leopard and Nile crocodile. In addition, farmers may not want these animals on their land. However, in the case of the leopard and rhino, the introduction of quotas for hunting trophies has meant landowners consider the animals a valuable asset.
To alleviate these problems the study suggests a need for community support and the devolution of responsibility from the state to the communal level. This approach has proven successful in boosting biodiversity in countries including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. However, species whose products and derivatives are of particularly high commercial value can still face conservation problems despite economic incentives. This is the case for species used for traditional medicines such as tigers, Asiatic bears, the devil's claw plant and the African cherry. In these cases, community cooperation and economic incentives are more difficult to achieve.
CITES and other policies should base their protection on socio-economic considerations as well as biological/trade criteria. However, tools are needed to identify species which will benefit from trade, as are mechanisms to facilitate sustainable legal trade at a community level.
Source: Abensperg-Traun, M. (2009). CITES, sustainable use of wild species and incentive-driven conservation in developing countries, with an emphasis on southern Africa. Biological Conservation. 142: 948-963.
20.05.2009 Europe’s amphibians and reptiles on the decline
One fifth of Europe’s reptiles and nearly a quarter of its amphibians are threatened with extinction, according to a European assessment by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
The study, commissioned by the European Commission, shows that the population trends are equally alarming. More than half of amphibians (59%) have declining populations and 42% of reptiles are declining. For 23% of amphibians and 21% of reptiles, the situation is so severe that they are classified as threatened in the European Red List.
Europe is home to 151 species of reptiles and 85 species of amphibians. Of these, six reptile species have been classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, including the Tenerife Speckled Lizard (Gallotia intermedia), 11 as Endangered and 10 as Vulnerable. Two amphibian species have been classified as Critically Endangered, five as Endangered, including the Appenine Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina pachypus) – in the picture – and 11 as Vulnerable.
The results show that reptile biodiversity increases from north to south in Europe, with the highest species richness found on the Balkan peninsula. The Iberian and Italian peninsulas are all important centres of diversity, as are the Mediterranean and Macaronesian islands. For amphibians, there is high diversity in France, Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as in the south and on islands.
Habitat loss is the greatest threat to both reptiles and amphibians in Europe. Other major threats include pollution, invasive alien species and deliberate persecution, particularly for snakes. Read more on the IUCN website.
Two events on monitoring biodiversity and developing indicators will take place in the UK in the next few months. The meeting on 18–19 June in London on Biodiversity monitoring and conservation: bridging the gaps between global commitment and local action organized by the Zoological Society of London will be followed by the Expert Workshop on the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators and Post-2010 Indicator Development on 6–8 July in Reading.
Endangered Animal Parts Openly Sold In London
Andy Fisher heads up the wildlife crime unit of Operation Charm, the Metropolitan Police’s only initiative against the illegal trade in endangered species in the UK, and is passionate about his work.
We were launched in 1995 as we became aware of particular alternative medicines, such as some Chinese medicine shops selling products containing illegal ingredients extracted from tigers. We were finding sales of tiger bones, and tiger rugs, and in one case, 10 month old stuffed tiger cubs. People think it’s an international issue but it’s happening in London too… Recently we arrested someone in west London who was in possession of a huge brand new polar bear skin rug that had been made-to-order.
An effective sticker scheme has been introduced for traditional Chinese medicine traders to enable them to demonstrate their commitment not to use endangered species in their products and allow consumers to make an informed choice about what they're buying. After all, if people are unwilling to buy the products of wildlife crime, the market will dwindle. As a positive Andy Fisher says, "It’s a long and difficult process but with the help of the public we can continue to make this work.”
Report wildlife trade on the web
! If you find a wildlife product on an internet auction - report it to the site owner!
! If you find a site offering wildlife products (also auction sites) or live endangered animal species report it:
Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS-LE-3000, Arlinton, Virginia, USA 22203 or: the main place to report illegal wildlife can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/le/
EIA Environment Investigation Agency
62/63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 (0)20 7354 7960
Fax: +44 (0)20 7354 7961
PO Box 53343
Washington DC 20009
Tel: +1 202 483 6621
Fax: +1 202 986 8626
Operarion CHARM London, UK:
The police need the help of the people of London to stop the illegal trade in endangered species and you can help us.
If you see anything that appears to be made from an endangered species on sale, please report it to the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit. This could be a traditional Chinese medicine product or any other item made from an endangered species, but remember, the law controls trade, not possession, so the product has to be on sale or being kept, or advertised for sale.
Please help us to stop the illegal trade in endangered species. Send a report!
"Thousands of animals and wildlife products are being sold on the web each day, many of which are endangered species. Commercial trade in wildlife is incredibly destructive. Each one of us has a responsibility to stop buying and selling wildlife products."