INTERNATIONAL IUCN Launches “Species Of The Day” Site
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is increasing awareness of the enormous variety of life on our planet and raising the profile of threatened species by launching the IUCN Red List ‘Species of the Day’ on its website at http://www.iucn.org/.
IUCN’s mission is to help the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges: “Biodiversity is the backbone of all life on earth, and its conservation lies at the very core of IUCN’s work. ‘Species of the Day’ has been launched as part of IUCN’s involvement in the International Year of Biodiversity. With mounting scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis, it’s time to take action. Jane Smart, Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group, said that, ‘The latest analysis of the IUCN Red List shows the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity loss will not be met. It’s time for governments to get serious about saving species and make sure it’s high on their agendas for next year, as we’re rapidly running out of time.’”
Each day throughout 2010, a different species will be featured on the IUCN website. It will include information on the species range, threats to the species, and conservation priorities. The 365 species selected represent the entire range of taxonomic groups and cover all regions. The website will first feature some of the better known species; such as the polar bear. It will move on to cover lesser well known plants, fungi, invertebrates, and more. Both charismatic and obscure species will be featured, providing an insight into the astonishing level of biodiversity that exists on our world.
On January 6th, for example, the Asian elephant was featured: “The Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is found in isolated populations in 13 tropical Asian countries. The Asian elephant is smaller than its African savannah relative; the ears are smaller and the back is more rounded. The numbers of Asian elephants have been decimated by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, driven by an expanding human population. This causes elephants to become increasingly isolated, often coming into conflict with local farmers. Crops are damaged and lives lost; up to 300 people a year are killed by elephants in India. Poaching for ivory is also a threat and because only males have tusks, populations can become extremely skewed towards females, thus affecting breeding rates. The most important conservation priorities for the Asian Elephant are: conservation of their habitat and maintaining habitat connectivity by securing corridors; management of human–elephant conflicts; improved legislation and law enforcement with enhanced field patrolling; and regulating/curbing trade in ivory and other elephant products.”