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Sunday, June 26, 2011

ECOLOGY & BIODIVERSITY: A fifth of world's life at extinction risk!

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IANS / The Hindu / NAGOYA (JAPAN), October 27, 2010.

A trio of humpback whales break the surface of the water as they work together in a group behavior known as
A trio of humpback whales break the surface of the water as they work together in a group behavior known as "bubble feeding" off the coast of Cape Cod near Provincetown, United States. Efforts to save endangered animals are making a measureable difference, even as a fifth of the world's backboned species -- mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes -- are threatened with extinction, a huge new analysis says. File photo - AP.

A fifth of the world’s mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes are in imminent danger of going extinct, says this year’s edition of the benchmark IUCN Red List. The percentages of threatened invertebrates and plants are similar.
Releasing the findings at the Oct. 18-29 UN biodiversity summit, being attended by 192 countries, here Wednesday, Simon Stuart, chair of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said their findings on vertebrates showed that “nature’s backbone is at risk”.
Around 3,000 scientists from around the world have worked to put this Red List together. They have found that 25 percent of all mammals, 13 percent birds, 41 percent amphibians, 22 percent reptiles and 15 percent fishes risk extinction, mostly due to loss of their habitats and some due to overhunting.
A recent study by the Kew Botanical Gardens had found that around six million species — 20 percent of all plants and invertebrates — face the extinction threat too.
But it’s not all bad news. IUCN has found 64 species that have improved their status in the Red List, moving from the critically endangered to the endangered category, for example. Stuart said all these were in areas that had been protected, “proving the importance of conservation”. Results show that the status of biodiversity would have declined by at least an additional 20 percent if conservation action had not been taken.

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