A new United Nations’ report released Monday paints a dire picture for plant and animal life, saying nature is in more trouble now than at any time in human history — and humans are to blame.
But there's still time for us to fix the problem, the report added.
The report relied heavily on research from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. Researchers there provided the following examples of animals threatened by extinction and the work being done to save them.
The critically endangered Archery’s Frog, native to New Zealand, saw its population drop by more than 80 percent between 1996 and 2001, the IUCN said. But conservation measures, including habitat management, protection from mining, and predator control, have paid off. Experts now consider the population trend to be “stable.”
The endangered Mauritius kestrel was the world’s rarest bird in 1974 with only four known, including one breeding female. Today, there are about 400 of them following conservation efforts that included captive breeding, supplementary feeding, nest-site enhancement, and predator control, according to the IUCN.
Rodrigues flying fox (fruit bat)
The endangered Rodrigues flying fox or fruit bat used to be found on the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, but is now found only on Rodrigues, in the western Indian Ocean. In the 1970s, there were just 70 to 100 of them, but the population has rebounded to 25,000, largely due to increased forest cover and protection, the IUCN said.
Only about one-third of the critically-endangered Sumatran Orangutan population lives in protected areas, according to the IUCN. Orangutans are being pushed to the brink of extinction by unsustainable oil palm plantations that are wiping out huge areas of rainforest. In March, the city of Chester in the United Kingdom, pushed by its zoo, became the first city to commit to change the way it buys palm oil and labeled itself a “Sustainable Palm Oil City.”
Greater Bamboo Lemur
Once thought to be extinct, the critically-endangered Greater Bamboo Lemur, was ‘rediscovered’ in 1986. It’s found only in isolated pockets of Madagascar’s eastern rainforests. Conservation efforts, including work with local communities, have had positive results to stave off the effects of habitat destruction and hunting, according to IUCN.
The global population of critically-endangered spoon-billed sandpipers once fell below 200 pairs. But in recent years, a program was set up to take eggs into captivity, hatching and rearing them in safety from predators and the elements. “Well over 100 spoon-billed sandpipers have been raised and released this way,” the IUCN said.
The “vulnerable” Lebanese cedar has undergone various conservation measures, including extensive planting projects and education projects about the protected area, according to the IUCN.
Endangered green turtles are protected by international and national policies. In Australia, conservation efforts include research and monitoring, according to the IUCN.
Once considered critically endangered, the blue iguana’s status improved to simply endangered in 2012. A recovery program that began in 1990 started with fewer than a dozen captive iguanas. There are now about 1,000 in nature reserves on Grand Cayman.
Giant Pandas have benefited from a number of broad conservation efforts, including projects to protect bamboo, its primary food source. The pandas previously suffered from heavy poaching and habitat loss, according to the IUCN. They were once considered endangered but are now labeled “vulnerable.” They’re still under threat from habitat fragmentation and climate change.
The endangered Mauritius fody, a small songbird, saw its numbers fall below 200 in 1993, but since then conservation efforts have boosted that count to about 300.
The Ethiopian wolf is Africa’s most endangered carnivore, according to the IUCN. The species exists only in the highlands of Ethiopia and has benefited from conservation efforts. Wolf trackers monitor individual and pack activity year round, much of the species habitat is now preserved, and threats from hunting have subsided due to heightened public awareness.