IUCN reports 44,000 species threatened with extinction on Earth

These species threatened with extinction were added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species and makes up 28 percent of the 157,190 species listed.

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In a new report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the assessment determined that 44,016 species are threatened with extinction on Earth. These species threatened with extinction were added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and makes up 28 percent of the 157,190 species listed, according to a press release.

From Atlantic salmon to green turtles, one of the major risks attributed to the reason for species extinction is climate change, YaleEnvironment360 reported.

“This IUCN Red List update highlights the strong links between the climate and biodiversity crises, which must be tackled jointly,” Dr. Grethel Aguilar, IUCN director general, said. “Species declines are an example of the havoc being wreaked by climate change, which we have the power to stop with urgent, ambitious action to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was released at the COP28 UN climate conference in the United Arab Emirates and includes the world’s first global freshwater fish assessment. About 3,086 out of 14,898 assessed freshwater fish species are at risk of extinction with 17 percent of species affected by climate change, which includes a decrease water levels, a rise in sea levels causing seawater to move up rivers, and a shift in seasons, IUCN reported. On top of climate change threats freshwater fish are also threatened with extinction from pollution, (57 percent), dams and water extraction (45 percent), over fishing (25 percent), and invasive species and disease (33 percent).

“Freshwater fishes make up more than half of the world’s known fish species, an incomprehensible diversity given that freshwater ecosystems comprise only 1 percent of aquatic habitat,” Kathy Hughes, co-chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, said. “These diverse species are integral to the ecosystem, and vital to its resilience. This is essential to the billions of people who rely upon freshwater ecosystems, and the millions of people who rely on their fisheries. Ensuring freshwater ecosystems are well managed, remain free-flowing with sufficient water, and good water quality is essential to stop species declines and maintain food security, livelihoods and economies in a climate resilient world.”

Other notable changes listed in the assessment included Atlantic salmon, which moved from Least Concern to Near Threatened, as new research determined a global population decrease of 23 percent between 2006 and 2020, IUCN reported. Also, green turtle populations changed listings from Endangered and Vulnerable to Extinction in the IUCN Red List update citing climate change as the major threat.

While many species were added to the Red List, some positive changes include the scimitar-horned oryx moved from Endangered to Extinct in the Wild since being reintroduced in Chad and the saiga antelope changed from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened since its population in Kazakhstan alone increasing 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2022, EcoWatch reported.

“Today’s update to the IUCN Red List shows the power of coordinated local, national and international conservation efforts,” Razan Al Mubarak, IUCN president, said. “Success stories such as that of the scimitar horned oryx show that conservation works. To ensure the results of conservation action are durable, we need to decisively tackle the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises.”

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