The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Germany’s branch, stated that environmental threats are increasing and pushing many animals to the brink.
The WWF Germany issued its “Winners & Losers of 2021” annual list of animals whose survival is at risk, as well as its conservation successes.
A mass extinction event is possible “within 10 years.”
There are currently 142,500 species of animal and plant on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, 40,000 of which are “threatened by extinction.”
According to the WWF Germany, it’s the largest number ever to be added to the Red List since 1964.
The organization stated in a statement that “around one million species could become extinct within the next ten years which would be the biggest mass extinction event since end of the dinosaur era.”
Eberhard Brandes, Director of WWF Germany, said that it was urgent to adopt decisive environmental protection policies, especially in the fight against global warming.
He stated that conservation of species is more than just about defeating an environmental problem. It is also about the question whether or not humans will eventually end up on a Red List in an endangered group and become a victim to their lifestyle.
In 2021, polar bears will be joined by other species that live on thin ice.
The African forest elephant, which has seen its population decline by 86% in the past 31 years, is one of the most threatened animals.
The rapid melting of Arctic Ocean pack ice is making it difficult for animals to adapt, so polar bears were also included in this list. WWF Germany reported that experts estimate that the Arctic Ocean will be completely iceless by the summer 2035.
Germany’s tree-frogs and toads, with half of their native amphibian species listed as endangered on the Red List, are also at risk. Their habitats are being impacted by unabated construction, which has made roads a death trap.
Grey cranes and migratory species that move on land also made it onto the 2021 “losers’ list. The noble pen shell, the largest clam in Europe, also made it on the 2021 “losers’ list.
Lucky Bustards, and other 2021 animal “winners”,
The WWF noted that there were “rays of light” in the world this year of environmental conservation.
The Iberian lynx is one of the most endangered big cats in the world. It made a “successful return” in Portugal and Spain. In 2002, 94 lynxes were found. The population has increased tenfold in recent years, with the most recent count for 2020 showing that over 1,100 are now alive.
The German population of great bustards saw significant growth in 2021 with their highest level in 40 year. Researchers counted 347 birds this year, compared to just 56 birds in 1997.
The WWF also recorded a success in Nepal’s efforts to save the Indian rhinoceros population. In cooperation with the government, stricter protection measures have been implemented that have allowed the rhino population to grow by 16% every year since 2015.
The population of blue whales, crocodiles, and bearded-vultures in Cambodia also increased.
rs/msh (epd, AFP)