Taking Action To Save Animals From Extinction
Back in June 2016, scientists reported the first animal casualty to climate change. The Bramble Cay melomys, known as a mosaic-tailed rat, is now thought to be extinct as a result of dramatic habitat loss and rising sea levels caused by climate change.
This alarming reality will unfortunately become more common unless drastic action is taken and government and private sector organizations support conservation efforts.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which includes over 82,000 species, 23,928 of those are considered to be threatened, while 5,107 are deemed Critically Endangered. This list highlights the urgency for conservation action and wildlife protection. The key drivers of species loss include illegal hunting, habitat destruction, and invasive species, and animals that were once widespread and abundant like the Plains Zebra, are now considered to be Near Threatened. In fact, 80 mammals are now getting closer to extinction, so it’s our responsibility to take action. 8 mammal species have enjoyed improved status, so it is possible to save endangered species.
The Eastern Gorilla, in particular, has been moved to Critically Endangered due to a population decline of 70% in just 20 years. This is sad news especially since hunting is the primary cause of this decline, despite the killing or capturing of apes being illegal. The Borneo Orangutan numbers have also dropped dramatically due to loss of habitat and an increase in plantation farming, and now, four of the six great apes are listed as Critically Endangered.
And it’s not just wildlife that’s facing the threat of extinction – 87% of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plants are now threatened with extinction too. This is a result of invasive species – such as goats, slugs, pigs, and non-native plants – that are destroying Hawaii’s native flora. Efforts are now being undertaken to nurse and help these species recover, however their future still remains uncertain.
Fortunately, some good news did come from the 2016 IUCN World Congress. The Giant Panda has now been upgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable thanks to conservation efforts that have reaped positive results. The Chinese government has played a huge role in protecting this species with conservation policies and support to stop hunting and restore the Giant Panda’s natural habitat. This is a great example of how we can move the dial on the barometer of life, and the sooner we work on saving species from extinction and climate change, the better the outcome will be.
The IUCN are hoping to assess 160,000 species by 2020, and the results should illustrate whether our conservation efforts are working. At the moment, 28% of mammals are threatened with extinction, so even though the threat level for some animals is turning around, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to save animals from extinction. We need more government and private sector support, and the sooner we start working on saving species, the less support and costs it takes to save them.
The IUCN World Congress 2016 was held in early September in Hawaii. Olelo Community Media has kindly posted videos of the proceedings on You Tube.