IUCN Scientists Release List Of World’s 100 Most Threatened Species

For the first time ever, scientists from the IUCN Species Survival Commission have identified 100 of the most threatened animals, plants, and fungi on the planet.

AsianScientist (Sep. 17, 2012) – For the first time ever, more than 8,000 scientists from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have come together on Jeju Island, South Korea to identify 100 of the most threatened animals, plants, and fungi on the planet.

The 100 species from 48 different countries are first in line to disappear completely if nothing is done to protect them, say the scientists.

One such example is the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), one of the most threatened mammals in Southeast Asia. Known as the Asian unicorn because of its rarity, the population of these antelope may be down to few tens of individuals today.

Saola stamps issued in 2000 by Vietnam under the aegis of the World Wide Fund for Nature (Photo: pibburns.com).

Asia’s few remaining Javan and Sumatran rhinos have also been identified by conservationists as some of the most threatened animals in the world. There are fewer than 50 Javan rhinos remaining, all in one Indonesian national park. Sumatran rhinos live in a few scattered locations across Sumatra and Borneo, but number fewer than 200.

Viet Nam lost its last rhino to poaching in 2010, leading to the country’s subspecies of Javan rhino being declared extinct. Three of the five species of rhinoceros are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“The increase in demand for rhino horn in Asia in recent years, primarily from Viet Nam, has caused poaching to skyrocket to record levels as far away as South Africa,” said Dr. Carlos Drews, Director of WWF’s Global Species Program.

While species declines have mainly been caused by humans, in almost all cases scientists believe their extinction can still be avoided through effective conservation measures.

Last year Nepal celebrated a year without any rhino poaching incidents, which was largely attributed to increased law enforcement measures implemented with the help of WWF.

In honor of the International Year of the Rhino, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in June 2012 pledged to effectively address rhino conservation in the country and committed to better protection for the animals.

But conservationists fear many threatened species may be allowed to die out because they do not provide humans with obvious benefits.

“The donor community and conservation movement are leaning increasingly towards a ‘what can nature do for us’ approach, where species and wild habitats are valued and prioritized according to the services they provide for people. This has made it increasingly difficult for conservationists to protect the most threatened species on the planet,” said Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s Director of Conservation.

All species have a value to nature and thus in turn to humans, explains Dr. Simon Stuart, Chair IUCN Species Survival Commission.

“Although the value of some species may not appear obvious at first, all species in fact contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet,” he added.


Source: WWF; Photo: Save The Rhino International.
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