How do scientists classify endangered species

WWF: New Red List of Mammal Species Endangered Worldwide

WWF Austria - species protection, nature protection, climate protection
Narwhal, river dolphins closer to extinction, elephants better protected
Gland / Switzerland / Vienna, October 6, 2008 –1,141 of 5,487 known mammals on earth are threatened with extinction today. That is more than a fifth of all mammal species. The situation has worsened markedly with mammals such as the narwhal, the Irrawaddy dolphin and also with the Australian tree kangaroos. The good news is that comprehensive conservation measures have improved the situation of five percent of all threatened species worldwide. This also includes the African elephants. This is the result of the Red List published today by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The Union has been meeting in Barcelona for ten days since yesterday. 7,000 experts from 150 countries take part. “Many species are coming under increasing pressure. The reasons for this are the loss of habitats, overexploitation of nature, environmental pollution and, above all, climate change, ”warns WWF conservation expert Jutta Jahrl.

The Irrawaddy dolphin in Southeast Asia is particularly threatened. It often ends up in industrial fishing nets as bycatch. The construction of large dams, mining and also the deforestation of the forests threaten its existence more and more. A population in the Philippines has only 77 individual specimens left. The same is true of the narwhal, which is often hunted for its long ivory horn. The destruction of its habitats in the arctic spheres and the contamination of the seas with toxins damage the health and fertility of animals. 14 tree kangaroo species in Australia and Papua New Guinea are also endangered by overhunting and deforestation.

On the other hand, international control of poaching and the ivory trade brought great success. Especially in East and South Africa, the numbers of the African elephant have recovered. "This example makes it clear that international cooperation in species protection is very successful," said Jahrl. Nevertheless, the WWF warns that the forest elephants in particular are still severely threatened.

A total of 188 mammal species worldwide are so endangered today that they are on the verge of extinction. In Europe, this mainly affects the Iberian lynx, of which fewer than 150 specimens exist today.

The Red List of Endangered Species is drawn up by the IUCN. 1,800 scientists from 130 countries worked on it. 44,838 species are recorded on the Red List. Of these, 16,928 are classified as critically endangered, or 38 percent. “We recommend this list to all municipalities, governments and politicians in Austria as an important basis for making decisions about nature conservation,” Jahrl appeals to ministers and authorities.

Additional Information:
MMag. Franko Petri, Press Spokesman WWF, Tel. 01-48817-231.
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