The source of our food, medicines and clean water, as well the livelihoods of millions of people may be at risk with the rapid decline of the world’s animal, plant and fungi species. The latest update of the IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species™, released on June 19, shows that of the 63,837 species assessed, 19,817 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals, 13% of birds, and 30% of conifers.
A quarter of the world’s inland fisheries are located on the African continent, yet 27% of freshwater fish in Africa are threatened, including the cichlid Oreochromis karongae, an extremely important source of food in the Lake Malawi region.
Invasive alien species are one of the leading and most rapidly growing threats to food security, human and animal health and biodiversity and a recent analysis of IUCN Red List data highlighted invasive alien species as the fifth most severe threat to amphibians, and the third most severe threat to birds and mammals. Together with climate change, they have become one of the most difficult threats to reverse.
In this year’s update of the IUCN Red List 247 species have been added to the threatened categories, i.e. Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. These additions drives the number of threatened species on a global level close to 20,000. The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity, and with that the health of Planet Earth. However until now the Red List has assessed only about 4 percent of the world’s known species. Scientists simply don’t have a clue yet about the status of the other 96 percent.
For more information on the recent Red List update read Jeremy Hance’s article on Mongabay here.
The above news item is reprinted from materials available at IUCN Red List, Wildscreen, Arkive and Mongabay. Original text may be edited for content and length.