Thirty-one animal and fish species have been declared extinct and more than 300 species of sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which published a report Thursday.
mps._execAd("boxinline");“These findings are sadly predictable,” Andy Cornish, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s shark and ray conservation program, said in a statement. “Twenty years have passed since the international community recognized the threat of overfishing through the International Plan of Action for Sharks. Yet, obviously, not nearly enough has been done to halt the overfishing that is pushing these animals to the brink of extinction.”
In the group’s update, a total of 316 species of sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras are now classified as “threatened,” or at risk of extinction in the wild. All of the world’s freshwater dolphin species are also now threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.
“Failure to do so will inevitably result in a wave of extinctions happening on our watch,” he said in the statement. “We must seize the moment to stop that from happening.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature also found some glimmers of hope. The European bison, the largest land mammal in Europe, is showing signs of recovery, with its population in the wild growing from 1,800 in 2003 to more than 6,200 in 2019. The species was reintroduced to the wild in the 1950s and has been the focus of long-term conservation campaigns in the decades since. There are now 47 free-ranging European bison herds, according to the organization, with the largest numbers found in Poland, Belarus and Russia.
These successes “provide living proof that the world can set, and meet, ambitious biodiversity targets,” Jane Smart, global director of its biodiversity conservation group, said in a statement.