A new United Nations report on biodiversity, released in May, claims that a million of the world’s species are at imminent risk of extinction, while 4000 native plant and animal species also face extinction in New Zealand, according to another recent report.
These claims give the impression that droves of plants and animals are going extinct, but things are not as alarming as these reports assert.
They key word they use is “face” which makes it sound imminent.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a close eye on extinctions and lists very few animals going extinct on the continents.Since 2000, the Union lists only the Western black rhino, a Japanese otter, the Yangtze River dolphin, five species of Australian marsupial rodents, and some African grasshoppers.
So nine species, not thousands.
Extinction doomsayers have always attracted headlines. In 2004, an international survey claimed that half the world’s animals faced extinction by the year 2050.
In I995, the renowned American scientist Jared Diamond predicted that half the world’s species would be extinct by the time he reached retirement age. However at age 72, Diamond has seen only a handful of animals disappear.
This is why people never accept doomsday claims, because we’ve heard them all before.
No animal has gone extinct in New Zealand since our bush wren was last seen in 1972. The last native plant to go extinct here was Adams mistletoe in 1954.
Wow I had no idea it has been that long.
New Zealand can be proud of its efforts to fight extinctions. Thanks to government and private efforts, and the heroic work of an army of volunteers, New Zealand has not lost a single species for 45 years.
With more money, new methods, and astute planning going into conservation, there is every prospect of our dwindling populations being saved from extinction over the next 50 years.
Repeated exaggerated claims that hundreds of species are on the verge of extinction are unnecessarily alarmist and likely to lead to apathy.