Trapped in island habitats that have been made smaller by rising seas, Indonesia’s Komodo dragons were listed as “endangered” on Saturday in a wildlife Red List update that also warned that overfishing is threatening nearly two in five sharks with extinction.
About 28 percent of the 138,000 species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on its survival list are now at risk of disappearing into the wild forever as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world grows. is becoming.
But the latest update to the endangered species Red List also highlights the potential for recovery, with four commercially fished tuna species retreating from a slide into extinction after a decade of efforts to curb overfishing.
The most spectacular recovery was in the Atlantic bluefin tuna, which jumped from “endangered” across three categories to the safe zone of “least concern”.
The strain — a mainstay of high-end sushi in Japan — was last reviewed in 2011.
“These Red List assessments show how closely our lives and livelihoods are intertwined with biodiversity,” IUCN Director General Bruno Oberle said in a statement.
An important message from the IUCN congress, which takes place in the French city of Marseille, is that disappearing species and the destruction of ecosystems are no less existential threats than global warming.
At the same time, climate change itself is casting a darker shadow than ever on the future of many species, especially endemic animals and plants that live uniquely on small islands or in certain biodiversity hotspots.
Komodo dragons – the world’s largest living lizards – can only be found in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and in neighboring Flores.
The species “is increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change,” the IUCN said: Rising sea levels are expected to shrink its small habitat by at least 30 percent over the next 45 years.
Outside of protected areas, the terrifying throwbacks are also quickly losing ground as humanity’s footprint grows.
“The idea that these prehistoric animals have come one step closer to extinction as a result of climate change is terrifying,” said Andrew Terry, Conservation Director at the Zoological Society of London.
Their decline is a “classic call to put nature at the center of all decision-making” at the crunch UN climate talks in Glasgow, he added.
‘An alarming speed’
The most comprehensive study of sharks and rays ever conducted revealed that 37 percent of the 1,200 species evaluated are now classified as directly threatened with extinction and fall into one of three categories: “vulnerable,” “endangered” or “critically endangered.” ” .
That’s a third more endangered species than seven years ago, said Simon Fraser University professor Nicholas Dulvy, lead author of a study published Monday that supports the Red List assessment.
“The conservation status of the group as a whole continues to deteriorate and the overall risk of extinction is increasing at an alarming rate,” he told AFP.
Five species of sawfish – whose serrated snouts become entangled in discarded fishing gear – and the iconic shortfin mako shark are among the most endangered species.
Chondrichthyan fish, a group composed primarily of sharks and rays, “are important to ecosystems, economies and cultures,” Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International and co-author of the forthcoming study, told AFP.
“By failing to adequately limit catches, we endanger the health of the oceans and waste opportunities for sustainable fishing, tourism, traditions and long-term food security.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that some 800,000 tons of sharks are caught each year – either intentionally or opportunistically, but research shows the actual number is two to four times greater.
The IUCN also officially launched its “green status” on Saturday – the first global standard for assessing species recovery and measuring conservation impact.
“It makes the invisible work of conservation visible,” Molly Grace, a professor at the University of Oxford and co-chair of Green Status, said at a news conference on Saturday.
The new measure measures the extent to which species have thinned or recovered compared to their historical population level, and assesses the effectiveness of past and potential future conservation actions.
Attempts to halt the massive decline in the number and diversity of animals and plants have largely failed.
In 2019, UN biodiversity experts warned that a million species are on the brink of extinction, raising the specter that the planet is on the brink of its sixth mass extinction event in 500 million years.
“The status of the red list shows that we are on the brink of the sixth extinction,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN’s Red List unit, told AFP.
“If trends continue to rise at that rate, we will soon have a major crisis.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)