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Mounting Evidence of Jeopardy to World's Species
Washington, D.C., 3 October 1996

This is an excerpt from the October 3rd press release of the IUCN, the World Conservation Union. You may be interested in seeing the Full Text of the Press Release. You may access the Red List database directly.

"A quarter of all known mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to the new 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals, the most comprehensive scientific assessment of threatened species ever produced." (note: the most recent redlist is a remarkable resource.)

"The Red List is actually a red flag, warning us about the imperiled status of animals and drawing attention to threats, such as habitat destruction, pollution, over-harvesting and introduction of foreign species," explained George Rabb, Chair of the Species Survival Commission (SSC), the IUCN commission responsible for the creation of the Red List."

"The finding that 25 percent of mammal species are threatened with extinction must drastically increase the urgency of conservation initiatives across the globe. Until this assessment, the conservation world has used the status of birds to estimate the level of threat to all animals, because birds were the only group of species that had been fully assessed. Eleven percent of all known bird species are threatened with extinction. Estimates of other assessed species threatened with extinction are: 20 percent of reptiles, 25 percent of amphibians, and 34 percent of fish, mostly freshwater species."

"The highest proportion of threatened species are in the orders that include monkeys and apes ... 46% ... "

"The most significant threat to the majority of species at risk of extinction was found to be habitat reduction, fragmentation and degradation, reflecting human population growth combined with economic development. A surprisingly important factor was introduction of non-native species, along with exploitation, pollution and climate change."

"The 1996 Red List marks three decades of international efforts for the conservation of the world's biodiversity, and its publication coincides with the first ever World Conservation Congress of IUCN - The World Conservation Union, to be held in Montreal, Canada, October 13-23, 1996. Species decline will be one of the major topics of discussion at the Congress."

Bushmeat Commentary:

The Bushmeat Project is convinced that the factor which drives nearly half the monkey and ape species into the threatened category is their exploitation and overharvesting. Humans use their fellow primates for food, medicine, biological research, and as pets and fetishes with increasing frequency and in direct relation to increases in logging and farming of natural habitats.

This is a formula for extinction. The majority of "harvested primates" are hunted for food. This is especially problematic for great apes whose population growth is slower than most other forest species due to long-term individual child rearing and typical birthrates of one infant every 4 to 6 years. That is why we are trying to stop the slaughter of apes and threatened monkeys, encourage development of domesticated game products, and influence the people of Africa to value our primate kin as a living natural heritage, rather than meat for the dinner table.
(ALR / 10-96)

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