Dec 21, 2012

Endangered Species Worldwide

In 2010, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) issued its updated list of threatened species of animals and plants worldwide, the "Red List" (www.iucnredlist.org). Species judged as "critically endangered," (with population declines of at least 80 percent),"endangered," or "vulnerable," are regarded as threatened with extinction. The Red List contained 9,618 species of animals and 12,914 species of plants in 2010. These include 21 percent (more than one in five) of mammalian species described and 12.4 percent (one in eight) of bird species. The list includes 8,724 threatened plants, but because only about 4 percent of plant species have been evaluated for threat, the number actually endangered is believed to be much larger. Although the endangered species include plants and animals of every type, the growing list of endangered mammals (for example, the great panda, the Siberian tiger, and orangutans), has caught the attention of the general public. Overall 1,131 mammalian species, large and small, were considered threatened in 2010.

Among the most gravely affected animals are primates which are threatened by deforestation, commercial hunting for bush meat, and the illegal animal trade; about one in four primate species and subspecies are at risk of extinction. Most threatened species are in the tropical areas of continents (South and Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia), especially on mountains and islands. In 2008, the I.U.C.N. found that Indonesia had by far the most threatened species of mammals, 183; Indonesia is also the most diverse country for mammals (670 species). Mexico is the country in the Americas with the most threatened mammal species, 99. Half the top 20 countries for number of threatened mammals are in Asia. Habitat loss is the greatest global threat to threatened species, affecting over 2,000 mammal species. In 2009, the I.U.C.N. reported that a third of the world's open-ocean sharks are threatened - more than 100 million sharks are killed globally each year due to commercial and recreational fishing. From 2006 to 2010 the number of critically endangered fish increased from 253 to 317, in significant part because of long-line fisheries. (New York Times ‘Guide to Essential Knowledge’)