Dear European mink, we wish you a happy new year…it could be your last one
End of 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released its updated Red List of Threatened Species™. It is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species that evaluates the extinction risk of thousands of species.
Figures are quite alarming. 25% of mammals and 40% of amphibians are threatened with extinctions and it happens everywhere. In Ecuador, 2,372 critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species have been identified, 1,858 in Madagascar (known for its endemic populations) and no less than 1,300 in Malaysia and Indonesia. With the exception of humankind (for the moment), at the very top, all levels of the food pyramid are concerned. From the top (sharks, etc) to the very bottom (stick insect, reef corals, etc), no one is spared.
Red List of Threatened Species summary
Several reasons explain this huge worldwide loss of biodiversity and they all are related to human activity: overfishing, hunting and poaching (elephants, rhino, gorillas, fishes …), deforestation and other loss of natural habitats to develop agriculture (palm oil, soya …), soil artificialization and waterproofing that breaks green and blue corridors, pollution and, finally climate change that impacts all ecosystems (unsuitable flora, lack of food for fauna, ocean’s acidification and deoxygenation, major changes in the food supply chains) and will probably trigger a terrible vicious circle.
That being said, the worst is never certain (though it does occur frequently) and situations are getting better for some endangered species. For instance, the Fin Whale has improved in status from Endangered to Vulnerable following bans on whaling, while the Mountain Gorilla subspecies has moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered thanks to collaborative conservation efforts.
So, dear European mink, happy new year and hang in there!
Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science
Sources: Beyond Ratings, IUCN