Kolkata, India: In a shocking new update to the Wildlife Red List, Indonesia’s Komodo dragons were listed as “endangered” on Saturday.
The wildlife Red List also warned that overfishing threatens nearly two-thirds of shark species.
As humankind’s destructive impact on nature deepens, approximately 28% of the 138,000 species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at risk of vanishing in the wild forever, AFP reported.
After a decade of efforts to limit overexploitation, four commercially fished tuna species have been pulled back from the verge of extinction, according to the most current Red List for Threatened Species update.
The species was last examined in 2011, and it is a mainstay of Japanese high-end sushi.
In a statement, IUCN Director General Bruno Oberle said, “These Red List assessments demonstrate just how closely our lives and livelihoods are intertwined with biodiversity.”
The IUCN Congress, taking place in Marseille, France, is emphasising that vanishing species and ecosystem destruction are equally grave threats to humanity as global warming.
Simultaneously, climate change is more threatening than ever before over the destinies of many species, notably endemic animals and plants that live only on small islands or in biodiversity hotspots.
The world’s largest living lizards, Komodo dragons, can only be found in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighboring Flores.
According to the IUCN, the species is “increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change,” with rising sea levels expected to reduce its tiny habitat by at least 30% over the next 45 years.
Outside of protected areas, the dreadful throwbacks are losing ground as humanity’s footprint grows.
It’s terrifying to think that these prehistoric animals are one step closer to extinction as a result of climate change, Andrew Terry, Conservation Director at the Zoological Society of London told the AFP news agency.
He went on to say that their demise is a “clarion call” for nature to be placed at the heart of all decision-making at the upcoming UN climate talks in Glasgow.
A frightening rate
Meanwhile, the most extensive assessment of sharks and rays ever conducted indicated that 37% of the 1,200 species assessed are now categorized as directly endangered, falling into one of three categories: “vulnerable,” “endangered,” or “critically endangered.”
According to Professor Nicholas Dulvy of Simon Fraser University, who is the principal author of a study that underpins the Red List evaluation, there are a third more species at risk than there were only seven years ago.
The group’s overall conservation status is deteriorating, and the overall risk of extinction is increasing at an alarming rate, he told AFP.
The famous shortfin mako shark and five species of sawfish, whose serrated snouts become tangled in cast-off fishing lines, are among the most endangered.
Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International and co-author of the upcoming study, told AFP that chondrichthyan fish, which include sharks and rays, are important to ecosystems, economies, and cultures.
By not regulating capture properly, we are jeopardizing ocean health and squandering long-term prospects for sustainable fishing, tourism, traditions, and food security, he said.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, some 800,000 tonnes of sharks are collected each year, either purposefully or opportunistically, but research suggests that the genuine figure is two to four times higher.
Tracker for environmental protection
The IUCN also unveiled its “green status” on Saturday, the world’s first worldwide criteria for gauging species recovery and assessing conservation impacts.
The new metric examines the efficiency of previous and prospective future conservation efforts by measuring how reduced or recovered species are compared to their historical population levels.
Efforts to stop widespread reductions in animal and plant populations and variety have generally failed.
The United Nations’ biodiversity specialists warned in 2019 that a million species are on the verge of extinction, raising the possibility of the planet’s sixth catastrophic extinction event in 500 million years.
The red list status indicates that we are on the verge of the sixth extinction event, Craig Hilton-Taylor, the IUCN’s Head of Red List Unit, told AFP.
If current trends continue, we will be facing a big crisis in the near future, he added.
(With Agency inputs)