African forest elephants, sharks and polar bears are losers – winners: native white-tailed eagles, Iberian lynx and Indian rhinos – WWF calls for nature conservation pact
If the earth is sick, so will the people. We depend on vital ecosystems and biodiversity for our own survival
Georg Scattolin, International Program Manager at WWF Austria
Vienna (OTS) – WWF Austria draws attention to numerous losers for thousands of endangered wild animal species in 2021. African forest elephants, sharks or polar bears it’s getting worse and worse. Global warming, land erosion, overfishing and poaching make it difficult for you and many other species to survive. Worldwide, over 40,000 of the 142,500 animal and plant species recorded on the Red List are considered threatened – more than recently. The nature conservation organization warns of a “catastrophic escalation of global species extinction” and calls for a national and global nature conservation pact. Because up to a million species could become extinct in the next if the trend is not reversed.
Bright spots and animal winner shows the WWF annual balance wherever people intensively protect nature and species. the native sea eagles is a prime example of this. One of the rarest cats in the world, the Iberian lynx, and the Nepalese Indian rhinos. The discovery of young Siamese crocodiles in Cambodia was a real surprise. For the first time in over ten years, live young animals of the extremely rare freshwater crocodiles were seen. “The animal winners give hope. They show what was going on in times of extinction, climate crises and pandemics is possible, ”says Georg Scattolin, International Program Manager at WWF Austria.
The loss of biodiversity and global warming are the increasing consequences of the exploitation of our planet:
“If the earth is sick, so will the people. We depend on vital ecosystems and biodiversity for our own survival “explains Scattolin. The environmental protection organization is therefore calling for a national action plan and an international nature conservation pact for the coming year. “The new biodiversity strategy in Austria and a globally binding species protection agreement must become ambitious and binding in order to secure the basis of life,” says Georg Scattolin, citing two specific examples.
Loser in 2021
African forest elephants: What many feared will be official in 2021: The African forest elephant, which lives in the rainforests of Central and West Africa, is now on the Red List as “critically endangered”. The stocks collapsed by more than 86 percent within 31 years. The “gardeners of the forest” play a common role in forest conservation and thus for climate protection. Habitat degradation and poaching are their greatest threat.
Sharks and rays: A third of all shark and ray species on the gold red list since this year as threatened. Overfishing is the main reason for the decline in stocks, but habitat loss and the climate crisis are also making the situation precarious.
Polar bears: The summers of recent years have brought record temperatures over the arctic land masses. Global warming is three times faster in the Arctic than the global average. In 2035, the Arctic Ocean could be completely ice-free in summer. According to studies, most polar bear populations would collapse by 2100.
Noble pen shell: The largest mussel living in the Mediterranean (Pinna nobilis) can live to be 90 cm and up to 20 years old. But in recent years, according to the latest WWF report, the deposits have (almost) completely disappeared in some Mediterranean regions of Spain, Italy and France. Mass extinction is triggered by a parasite that spreads with warm currents. Earth heating could ensure that this process intensifies and continues in other areas of the Mediterranean.
Cod, sturgeon and Co: For numerous fish species, including those used by humans, things are going downhill. A cod apocalypse occurred in the western Baltic Sea. The stock has collapsed due to overfishing and the climate crisis. Migratory fish species that cover long stretches between the sea and streams are also worse off. Salmon, sturgeon and huchen used to be widespread here. Due to river engineering, hydropower plants, poor water quality and overfishing, the stocks of European migratory fish have plummeted by 93 percent since 1970.
White-tailed eagles in Austria: In 2000, white-tailed eagles were still considered extinct in Austria. Today there are again 44 breeding pairs of Austria’s heraldic animal and thus a steadily growing, stable population. An absolute success story in domestic nature conservation. Cross-border measures and the protection and research program of the WWF have contributed to the return of the majestic birds of prey.
Iberian lynx: Comeback for one of the rarest cats in the world. The population of the Iberian lynx, which is only native to Spain and Portugal, has increased more than tenfold in the last 18 years to 1,111 animals. Unfortunately, his relative in Austria, the Eurasian lynx, is not doing well at all. The maximum of 40 indigenous lynxes are locally threatened with extinction again due to illegal persecution, land consumption and genetic impoverishment.
Indian rhinoceros: For many years the WWF has been working with the government and partners in Nepal to protect the Indian rhinos and their habitat. The random ones seem to be paying off. The population has grown by 16 percent compared to 2015 and has almost doubled since the first count in 2005. Indian rhinos have so far suffered mainly from habitat loss and illegal hunting of their horns.
Siamese crocodile in Cambodia: In September 2021, the team from WWF and the Cambodian Ministry of the Environment made a sensational find: On a research mission, they discovered eight young animals of the endangered Siamese crocodile. It has been the first recorded freshwater natural reproduction of this crocodile in eastern Cambodia for over years.
Bearded Vulture: 2021 was an absolutely successful year for the Bearded Vulture. In the entire Alpine region there was an increase of 50 young vultures – including six young birds that were released into the wild. This means that over 300 bearded vultures are flying again in the Alps. The international resettlement program that began over thirty years ago is well on its way.
PHOTOS of all winners and losers: https://we.tl/t-1SVYW0S6Xa
VIDEOS on request. Photos and videos are available free of charge for one-time use, stating the credit (in the file name) and if the WWF is named as an editor.
Inquiries & contact:
Mag. Florian Kozak. Press spokesman WWF Austria, firstname.lastname@example.org, +43 676 83 488 276