One in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction, and once widespread creatures such as the puffin, snowy owl and turtle dove are plummeting towards oblivion, according to the definitive study of global bird populations.
The Amazon, the single largest tropical rainforest and home to 10% of the world’s known species, could lose half of its plants and animals by the end of the century as global warming ravages the planet—and that loss of biodiversity is just a snapshot of what’s happening to the world’s forests, wetlands, and seas.
There’s a chance a frog who lives in a tank in a Bolivian museum is the last of his species. But he reportedly hasn’t given up hope, if one can ascribe hope to a frog. The male Sehuencas water frog continues to make mating calls from within his confinement at Bolivia’s Cochabamba Natural History Museum.
Polar bears could be sliding towards extinction faster than previously feared, with the animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment.
Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them.
After decades of researching the impact that humans are having on animal and plant species around the world, Chris Thomas has a simple message: Cheer up. Yes, we’ve wiped out woolly mammoths and ground sloths, and are finishing off black rhinos and Siberian tigers, but the doom is not all gloom. Myriad species, thanks in large part to humans who inadvertently transport them around the world, have blossomed in new regions, mated with like species and formed new hybrids that have themselves gone forth and prospered. We’re talking mammals, birds, trees, insects, microbes—all your flora and fauna. “Virtually all countries and islands in the world have experienced substantial increases in the numbers of species that can be found in and on them,” writes Thomas in his new book, Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction.
Brent Stirton won the award for his image Memorial to a Species, taken at a game reserve in South Africa.
The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.
There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth. The focus to date has been on wild animals – half of which have been lost in the last 40 years – but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered.
The totoaba, which is itself highly endangered, is caught for its swim bladders which are smuggled to China for sale on the black market. Undercover investigators found the swim bladders, called maws, for sale in Shantou in Guandong province, at an average price of $20,000 per kilogram. The cost has led to the maws being dubbed “aquatic cocaine”.
One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere.