The world is in the midst of a crisis, with many species of fish, frogs, birds and mammals facing extinction.
But the numbers are still staggering, and there’s a reason for this.
The species most at risk are the endangered species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that was implemented in 1997.
In its most recent report, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that between 2,300 and 5,000 species are at risk.
That’s up from about 6,000 in 2005.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of species that are in danger, as the global population is increasing, and as we are also seeing more and more species dying off,” says biologist Nick Brown of the University of Cambridge, the IUCN’s science advisor.
Brown has been documenting the decline in the endangered animal population for more than 15 years.
The first year of the ICDR’s listing, there were only a few thousand species in the wild.
Now there are over 6 million.
The IUCNM, an international conservation body, estimates there are now 2,000 to 5,600 species at risk globally, and that the number is growing rapidly.
The IUCM says that in 2015, there was an average of more than 6,300 species listed in the IARC, and over the last year, that number has increased to around 8,000.
The biggest threat to biodiversity, however, is not the species listed but their habitats, Brown says.
“Biodiversity is often a little bit more than habitat, it’s the biodiversity within those habitats, and in terms of habitat, we are seeing species disappear because they can’t find the appropriate habitat.”
He points to the loss of more-than-100 million trees across the world in the last 20 years, and warns that climate change will likely continue to wipe out some species of trees and shrubs.
Brown says that it’s important to keep an eye on species, but it’s also important to take a balanced approach to protecting them.
“It’s important that we not do anything that will be seen as a deterrent to the species that will continue to live,” he says.
He says the biggest threat is habitat destruction.
“You can’t say that biodiversity can’t survive because we’re not destroying everything,” he said.
“We’re destroying forests, we’re destroying rivers, we destroy wildlife habitat.”
And that’s what Brown is concerned about most.
“It’s about how we do our job of protecting our habitat.
The longer we wait, the more vulnerable we are to extinction.”
In the next decade, Brown predicts the number will increase as more species are added to the ICRS.
He is hopeful that by 2020, there will be about 15 million species at a minimum, but he says the current rate of change is unsustainable.
“The world is now at a tipping point,” he warns.
“This is a time when we can really get into a transition where the future is looking very bright for biodiversity.”
When the climate change is coming to our planet, we will have to find a way to deal with that.
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