One-quarter of UK mammals face threat of extinction

July 31, 2020 by  
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While tigers and elephants regally pose for endangered animal posters, many smaller creatures are fading away unnoticed. Now scientists are bringing attention to the dire outlook for less glamorous native U.K. mammals, claiming that one-quarter of them are at imminent risk of extinction. The scientists put 11 mammals on the U.K.’s first official Red List of endangered species . This list categorizes species according to their conservation status, using internationally agreed upon criteria. Related: Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species “When we draw all the evidence together — about population size and how isolated and fragmented those populations are — we come up with this list of 11 of our 47 native species being threatened imminently,” Fiona Mathews of the Mammal Society told BBC News. “And there are more species that are categorized as ‘near threatened’.” The study concluded that the Scottish wildcat and the greater mouse-eared bat are the U.K.’s most critically endangered mammals. Beaver, red squirrel, water vole and grey long-eared bats ranked as endangered. The vulnerable category included the hedgehog, hazel dormouse, Orkney vole, Serotine bat and Barbastelle bat . “The three categories of threat — critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable — tell you about the probability of the animal becoming extinct within this imminent timeframe,” Mathews said. The U.K. Red List was produced for official nature agencies of England, Wales and Scotland and has been approved by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ). The biggest reason for plummeting populations is habitat loss. A 2019 report on U.K. wildlife called the country among the most nature-depleted in the world. Many animal species in the U.K. have decreased by an average of 60% since 1970. Invasive species are another factor. Disease-ridden grey squirrels moved in and killed off endangered red squirrels, who lost more than 60% of their range just in the last 13 years. American mink that escaped from fur farms — and who can blame them — ate many native water voles. Scientists lacked enough information to assess the status of some mammals, including the wild boar and whiskered bat. They assigned five animals into the “near threatened” category, meaning they’re slightly too populous to make the Red List: the mountain hare, harvest mouse, lesser white-toothed shrew, Leisler’s bat and Nathusius’ pipistrelle. Via The Guardian and BBC Image via Peter Trimming

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One-quarter of UK mammals face threat of extinction

The endangered school shark is being sold as food in Australia

July 14, 2020 by  
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Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) listed the school shark as critically endangered. But that hasn’t stopped it from being regularly sold in Australian fish shops. While the international group chose one designation for the shark, Australian authorities put the species in a category known as “conservation dependent.” This means people can commercially trade the shark despite it being endangered. Related: Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species “It’s a quirk in our national laws that prioritizes commercial exploitation and economic drivers over environmental ones,” said Leonardo Guida, a shark scientist and spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, as reported in The Guardian . “We stopped harvesting whales for that very reason. Why is it different for a shark? Why is it different for a fish? There is no reason why any animal that has had a 90% decline in modern times should still continue to be harvested.” School sharks are smaller sharks that can measure up to 6 feet long and live for up to 60 years. This migratory species is found in many parts of the world, including off the shores of Brazil, Iceland, British Columbia, the U.K., Azores, Canary Islands and New Zealand. But they would be wise to steer clear of Australia , where their meat is sometimes sold as “flake,” Australia’s generic term for the shark meat popularly sold by fish and chip shops. The school shark is one of several animal species listed as conservation dependent that experts say should actually qualify for stronger protection. The school shark population has plummeted to 10% of its original numbers since 1990, when the species was officially declared as overfished. Countries recently voted to list the school shark on the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) appendices. This international agreement tries to get countries to cooperate in conserving migratory species. Australia was the only country to vote against it, claiming that the school shark population found in the ocean around Australia doesn’t migrate. Via The Guardian Image via Queensland State Archives

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The endangered school shark is being sold as food in Australia

Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species

July 13, 2020 by  
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The International Union for Conservation (IUCN) has uplisted the North Atlantic Right Whales from endangered to critically endangered . This move now raises concern about the possible extinction of these whales. The Right Whales have for a long time been listed as an endangered species in a bid to lobby authorities for protection. However, the state of care for the whales has not changed, pushing the species to the brink of extinction. The uplisting follows the sad news concerning the death of a Right Whale calf. The calf was one of the only 10 Right Whale calves born during the last calving season. According to NOAA, the calf was killed by a vessel strike on the coast of New Jersey . Related: Federal agencies propose designated marine habitat to help protect Pacific humpback whales IUCN updates its Red List of threatened species every year. According to the organization, overwhelming scientific evidence now shows that the Right Whales are dying at an alarming rate because of humans. The main causes of death include vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Despite the listing of these Right Whales as endangered species previously, they have continued to be killed by human actions. IUCN now hopes that by listing the whales as critically endangered, more efforts will be geared toward their protection. Since 2017, over 31 deaths of Right Whales were reported. Additionally, more than 10 Right Whales were reported as having serious injuries. Such a large number of dead and injured whales brought a sharp focus on the declining population of the Right Whales. Today, there are less than 400 existing right whales, and conservation groups are sounding an alarm over the state of this endangered species. Scientists warn that if the Right Whales are not protected, the situation will be irreversible within a decade. Conservationists are now lobbying governments to enhance the protection of the remaining whales. The NRDC has proposed establishing a Right Whales conservation act and advises that governments put in place legislation that will end the killing of the whales by vessel strikes . + IUCN Via NRDC Image via Allison Henry/NOAA

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Right Whales now ranked as critically endangered species

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