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The 'Race' to Extinction

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  Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The 'Race' to Extinction
    Posted: 13-Sep-2007 at 06:27
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Gorillas head race to extinction
 
 
 
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

The orangutan - an icon in peril... like so many other species

Gorillas, orangutans, and corals are among the plants and animals which are sliding closer to extinction.

The Red List of Threatened Species for 2007 names habitat loss, hunting and climate change among the causes.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has identified more than 16,000 species threatened with extinction, while prospects have brightened for only one.

The IUCN says there is a lack of political will to tackle the global erosion of nature.

Governments have pledged to stem the loss of species by 2010; but it does not appear to be happening.

The rate of biodiversity loss is increasing
Julia Marton-Lefevre
"This year's Red List shows that the invaluable efforts made so far to protect species are not enough," said the organisation's director-general, Julia Marton-Lefevre.

"The rate of biodiversity loss is increasing, and we need to act now to significantly reduce it and stave off this global extinction crisis."

One in three amphibians, one in four mammals, one in eight birds and 70% of plants so far assessed are believed to be at risk of extinction, with human alteration of their habitat the single biggest cause.

Critical list

The tone of this year's Red List is depressingly familiar. Of 41,415 species assessed, 16,306 are threatened with extinction to a greater or lesser degree.

RED LIST DEFINITIONS
Extinct - Surveys suggest last known individual has died
Critically Endangered - Extreme high risk of extinction - this means some Critically Endangered species are also tagged Possibly Extinct
Endangered - Species at very high risk of extinction
Vulnerable - Species at high risk of extinction
Near Threatened - May soon move into above categories
Least Concern - Species is widespread and abundant
Data Deficient - not enough data to assess
The main changes from previous assessments include some of the natural world's iconic animals, such as the western lowland gorilla, which moves from the Endangered to the Critically Endangered category.

Numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20-25 years.

Forest clearance has allowed hunters access to previously inaccessible areas; and the Ebola virus has followed, wiping out one-third of the total gorilla population in protected areas, and up to 95% in some regions.

Ebola has moved through the western lowland gorilla's rangelands in western central Africa from the southwest to the northeast. If it continues its march, it will reach all the remaining populations within a decade.

The Sumatran orangutan was already Critically Endangered before this assessment, with numbers having fallen by 80% in the last 75 years.

But IUCN has identified new threats to the 7,300 individuals that remain. Forests are being cleared for palm oil plantations, and habitat is being split up by the building of new roads.

Governments know they are going to fail to reach that target
Jean-Christophe Vie
In Borneo, home to the second orangutan species, palm oil plantations have expanded 10-fold in a decade, and now take up 27,000 sq km of the island. Illegal logging reduces habitat still further, while another threat comes from hunting for food and the illegal international pet trade.

So fragmented have some parts of the Bornean forest become that some isolated orangutan populations now number less than 50 individuals, which IUCN notes are "apparently not viable in the long term".

Straight to zero

The great apes are perhaps the most charismatic creatures on this year's Red List, but the fact they are in trouble has been known for some years. Perhaps more surprising are some of the new additions.

"This is the first time we've assessed corals, and it's a bit worrying because some of them moved straight from being not assessed to being possibly extinct," said Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of IUCN's species programme.

Galapagos%20coral.%20Image:%20Cleveland%20P%20Hickman%20Jr
The first formal assessment of corals shows many are at risk
"We know that some species were there in years gone by, but now when we do the assessment they are not there. And corals are like the trees in the forest; they build the ecosystem for fish and other animals."

IUCN is now embarking on a complete assessment of coral species, and expects to find that about 30% to 40% are threatened.

The most glaring example of a waterborne creature failed by conservation efforts is probably the baiji, the Yangtze river dolphin, which is categorised as Critically Endangered, Possibly Extinct.

This freshwater species appears to have failed in its bid for survival against the destructive tides of fishing, shipping, pollution, and habitat change in its one native river. Chinese media reported a possible sighting earlier this year, but the IUCN is not convinced; with no confirmed evidence of a living baiji since 2002, they believe its time on Earth may well be over.

If so, it will have become a largely accidental victim of the various forces of human development. Not so the spectacular Banggai cardinalfish; a single decade of hunting for the aquarium trade has brought numbers down by an astonishing 90%.

Baiji.%20Image:%20Stephen%20Leatherwood

Many African vultures are new entrants on this year's list. But birds provide the only notable success, with the colourful Mauritius echo parakeet making it back from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

Intensive conservation work has brought numbers up from about 50 to above 300.

But the gharial, a crocodilian found in the major rivers of India and Nepal, provides a cautionary tale of what can happen when conservation money and effort dry up.

A decade ago, a programme of re-introduction to the wild brought the adult population up from about 180 to nearer 430. Deemed a success, the programme was stopped; numbers are again hovering around 180, and the gharial finds itself once more on the Critically Endangered list.

Climate of distraction

IUCN says that it is not too late for many of these species; that they can be brought back from the brink.

It is something that the world's governments have committed to, vowing in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity "to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level".

Female%20and%20infant%20mountain%20gorilla%20%28Image:%20WildlifeDirect%29

"Governments know they are going to fail to reach that target," said Jean-Christophe Vie, "and not just in terms of a few species - the failure is really massive.

"We know that it is possible to reverse the trend, but the causes are so huge and massive and global, and there is still a lack of attention to the crisis that biodiversity faces."

Many in the environmental movement argue that too much money and attention has gone on climate change, with other issues such as biodiversity, clean water and desertification ignored at the political level.

IUCN's assessment is that climate change is important for many Red List species; but it is not the only threat, and not the most important threat.

There are conflicts between addressing the various issues, with biofuels perhaps being the obvious example. Useful they may turn out to be in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; but many conservationists are seriously concerned that the vast swathes of monoculture they will bring spell dire consequences for creatures such as the orangutan.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

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  Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Sep-2007 at 06:35

Read the links on the page as well - they are all interesting (if very downheartening) reads.

Endangered species
 
 
Gorilla Factfile.
 
 
 
 
 
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  Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Sep-2007 at 09:23
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Sep-2007 at 01:44
I admit I haven't read all the links you posted yet.  The truly sad thing is we are exterminating species we know next to nothing about, if at all. 
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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  Quote Adalwolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Sep-2007 at 05:39
This fuels two emotions in me: rage and despair. It seems I alternate between the two on a regular basis now.
Concrete is heavy; iron is hard--but the grass will prevail.
     Edward Abbey
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Sep-2007 at 06:15
It's terrible that some species, while efforts and funds are still there to repopulate, their numbers have dwindled so low that their is not enough diversity within the gene pool. Terrible in-breeding arises, and numerous fatal mutations are inevitable.

Critically endangered means the species is expected to be extinct in the wild within the immediate future. As far as I know, every single Primate (Prosimian, Monkey and Ape) are classed on the IUCN red list as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. (Except humans)

Cats are in a lot of danger as well. There are only about 40 Amur Leopards and South China Tigers remaining in the wild. Less than 50 Northern Hairy Nosed wombats, all in the one protected stretch of forest in Queensland, Australia. Same goes for the Asiatic Lion, which exists only in the Gir Forest in India. Imagine the consequences of a forest fire - the species could be all but gone.

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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Sep-2007 at 08:43
Many of the human factors involved causing extinction have been totally unnecessary so far as human progress is concerned. All property surrounding wildlife habitants should not ever be for sale yet to many groups and governments arond the world that is unthinkable.
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  Quote Adalwolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Sep-2007 at 09:16
They have been the result of human progress, from the mindset that the wold belongs to man to do with as we please.  Ever since groups of mankind embarked on civilization its been a constant war against nature.

I am sick of it.
Concrete is heavy; iron is hard--but the grass will prevail.
     Edward Abbey
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Sep-2007 at 18:28
Everything everyone has said is sadly completely correct.
 
Originally posted by Adalwolf

This fuels two emotions in me: rage and despair. It seems I alternate between the two on a regular basis now.
Oh, how well I know that state of mind.


Edited by Justinian - 20-Sep-2007 at 18:28
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Sep-2007 at 02:02

Call me weird but nature is my way of religion and realizing that really does ease my state of mind. Early religions and sciences saw the earth and stars as fixed systems, gods and humans were superior beings who ruled over all other living things. Thousands of years later we still only know life systems work by natural laws and still learn to go along with them all over again. This world has natural laws we need go along with or perish. The thought of us being exclusive creatures is still expressed everywhere, but what purpose does such vanity serve? Some say we are apart from this world but I say we are part of it.

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  Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2007 at 06:17
Originally posted by elenos

Call me weird but nature is my way of religion and realizing that really does ease my state of mind. Early religions and sciences saw the earth and stars as fixed systems, gods and humans were superior beings who ruled over all other living things. Thousands of years later we still only know life systems work by natural laws and still learn to go along with them all over again. This world has natural laws we need go along with or perish. The thought of us being exclusive creatures is still expressed everywhere, but what purpose does such vanity serve? Some say we are apart from this world but I say we are part of it.

 
You are weird.LOL (Kidding)
 
gods and humans may be superior, but they need to do their duty to ensure that balance of nature prevails. Why did gods make the world, if they would allow the world to be destoryed? (With exception of Norse and Inuit legend...)
     
   
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  Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Sep-2007 at 06:18

It's cruel and evil, but this thought came to my mind when I saw the title of the forum...

 
"Run gorllia run! You are winning the race!!!"
 
I think I need help...
     
   
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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Sep-2007 at 11:53
As some may know, there are 9 known subspecies of Tiger:
- Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica
- Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris
- Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti
- South China Tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis
- Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksonii
- Caspian Tiger Panthera tigris virgata
- Balinese Tiger Panthera tigris balica
- Java Tiger Panthera tigris sondaica

The latter 3 (Caspian, Java, Balinese) are completely extinct, and have been for decades. The other 6 have existed in the wild, up until recently when censuses and expeditions have failed to get any sightings of the South China Tiger. Numbers have been dwindling, at around 40 in the wild. The majority of those remaining are in Chinese conservation parks (zoos). Could this be the end of the wild South China Tiger?

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  Quote Darius of Parsa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Oct-2007 at 22:58

The Caspian Tiger became extinct due to the mass killings of the tigers at Roman gladatorial displays. The Romans hired men to go out to the fringes of the empire and bring back exotic beasts, including the Caspian Tiger. When the cat entered the Colosseum, the animal became blind because of the bright sun beating down on their eyes, as they were in a dark room seconds before. The gladiator usually made short work of them, as the cat could not fight as well in the light. If the animal had won, an animal keeper would come down onto the stage and kill the animal, as he had many years of training of how to kill beats of burden. 



Edited by Darius of Parsa - 31-Oct-2007 at 23:03
What is the officer problem?
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