Wildlife & Biodiversity

List of threatened species gets longer a year before prevention target

International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List shows that every fifth species is threatened with extinction

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 19 July 2019
A giant guitarfish, which has been mentioned in the updated Red List. Photo: Getty Images

The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, released on July 18, 2019, shows that more and more species assessed are being threatened with extinction.

The IUCN Red List assesses 1,05,732 species. The current update breaks the 1,00,000 species barrier, making it the largest such assessment of species.

“With more than 100,000 species now assessed for the IUCN Red List, this update clearly shows how much humans around the world are overexploiting wildlife,” says Grethel Aguilar, the acting director general of IUCN.

According to the new updated list, 28,338 species are threatened with extinction. This comes close to the recent release of the IPBES Global Biodiversity Assessment.

“Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinction is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely,” says the report.

According to the global assessment, one million animal and plant species are under extinction. Moreover, thousands of these would extinct within decades.

“More than ever before in human history” is how the assessment report has termed the extinction rate.

“This Red List update confirms the findings of this assessment,” says Jane Smart, Global Director of the IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group.

The new list brings out an alarming rate of decline of freshwater and deep sea species. For example, over 50 per cent of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes are under extinction.

“The main drivers of this decline are the loss of free flowing rivers and increasing agricultural and urban pollution,” says a press release of IUCN.

The world’s 18,000 freshwater species are under severe stress due to various reasons and are declining at a fast rate.

Among ocean species, wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes, collectively known as Rhino Rays because of their elongated snouts, have been listed as the ‘most imperilled marine fish families in the world’.

Close to 50 per cent of the species assessed by IUCN have been put under the ‘Least Concern’ category. It means the rest 50 per cent are under various degrees of decline. Of the total assessed, 873 are already extinct while 6,127 are critically endangered.

According to the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020)’s Target 12, the extinction of known threatened species has to be ‘prevented’ by 2020. The target also includes an improvement in the conservation status of species. 

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