Biodiversity

Almost 40,000 species on IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction

40 000 species IUCN Red List threatened extinction

Komodo dragon (Markéta Machová from Pixabay)

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September 8, 2021

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September 8, 2021

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature said nearly 40,000 species out of almost 140,000 on its IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction. The status of the Komodo dragon has worsened in the latest update from vulnerable to endangered.

On the occasion of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, the International Union for Conservation of Nature warned 41% of amphibian species that it assessed and 37% of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. The update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species showed that out of 138,374 registered plants, animals and fungi, 902 are extinct and 80 can’t be found in the wild.

There are 38,543 species in peril including the Komodo dragon, which has moved from the vulnerable category to endangered. IUCN marked 8,404 of them as critically endangered.

The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest lizard. Endemic to Indonesia, it is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Rising global temperature and sea levels are expected to reduce the Komodo dragon’s suitable habitat by at least 30% in the next 45 years.

Almost 40 000 species IUCN Red List threatened extinction
Sand cats are in the category of least concern on the IUCN Red List (Payman Sazesh / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Species can recover with sustainable practices

Thousands of tree species assessments have been added to the IUCN Red List this year from over 186 countries. More than 1,000 species were identified as impacted by logging and wood harvesting.

On the bright side, four commercially fished tuna species are on the path to recovery thanks to the enforcement of regional fishing quotas over the last decade. Overfishing, loss and degradation of habitat and climate change are the biggest dangers for sharks and rays and other fish species.

The IUCN Red List update showed species can recover if states truly commit to sustainable practices, said IUCN Director General Bruno Oberle. “These Red List assessments demonstrate just how closely our lives and livelihoods are intertwined with biodiversity,” he pointed out. IUCN said it needs to more than double the number of wild species that were assessed.

Biodiversity is crucial for food crops

Over 70 wild relatives of some of the world’s most important crops are threatened with extinction, out of 224 that were analyzed in a recent study, IUCN said. Native to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, they are used or can be used for widening genetic diversity and improving crops.

Wild kinds of maize, potato and squash, for instance, are more resilient to climate change, pests and diseases. “We need biodiversity to ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security for the world’s growing population, as this study shows,” Oberle said. All eight species of vanilla in the said region are listed as endangered or critically endangered.

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