For the first time ever, more than 100,000 thousand species are now listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
This month is was revealed around 9,000 species have recently been added to the list after being deemed at risk, bringing the total of threatened species of animals to 105,732.
Of these species, over 28,000 animals are threatened with extinction – a third of all species assessed.
The IUCN has been assessing the conservation status of animals, insects and plant life around the world since 1964. This year, however, the list features more species than ever.
In a statement, IUCN Acting Director General Dr Grethel Aguilar said:
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.
We must wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest, and is absolutely fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
One group of animals which has seen a steep decline to threatened status is freshwater fish, as IFLScience reports. Half of all freshwater species native to Japan are currently under threat of extinction, as are a third of those native to Mexico. This is due to agricultural and urban pollution, loss of free-flowing rivers, dams, unsustainable fishing and other, more invasive species in the water.
William Darwall, Head of the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, said:
The world’s freshwater fish species, which number almost 18,000, are undergoing a dramatic and largely unrecognised global decline, as made apparent in the high levels of extinction threat to freshwater fish species in Japan and Mexico.
The loss of these species would deprive billions of people of a critical source of food and income, and could have knock-on effects on entire ecosystems. To halt these declines, we urgently need policies on the human use of freshwaters that allow for the needs of the many other species sharing these ecosystems.
While seven species of primate have also been pushed further to the brink of extinction, six of which occur in West Africa alone, suggesting deforestation and hunting are causing staggering rates of decline to primate populations.
Russ Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group, said:
West Africa is one of the very highest priority areas on Earth for primate conservation.
Maintaining the amazing primate diversity of this region will require the creation of new protected areas, better management of existing ones, more effective enforcement of protective legislation, and economic alternatives that value primates as something more than a source of meat, with primate-watching ecotourism, based on successful models elsewhere in Africa, high on the list.
Dr Grethel Aguilar added:
States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature, and must respect and support local communities and Indigenous Peoples in strengthening sustainable livelihoods.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.