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Yet another crash

The IUCN announced just a few days ago that about 20 per cent of the 5,487 mammals of the world are threatened with extinction, reports Bharati Chaturvedi.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2008 01:49 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi

In the middle of the financial crash, there is news of another crash yet. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced just a few days ago that about 20 per cent of the 5,487 mammals of the world are threatened with extinction. Things are so bad that there is almost no bailout possible for 29 species. Among them, the Little Earth Hutia, a Cuban native, who has not been sighted for the last 40 years. And then there are 836 mammals about which there is inadequate data. Many of them are likely to be highly endangered.

Zoos — not the kind of faux entertainment prisons for animals — offer some hope. China’s Pere David’s Deer, already extinct in the wild, is conserved and flourishing in captivity.

What was striking about the information was why the rate of becoming endangered was so high. Habitat loss impacts 40 per cent of the mammals, including the Caspian Seal, which has declined by 90 per cent in the last century. But here is the more sombering thought. The regions the IUCN report mentions are in the developing world — the same regions that are going to be badly impacted by global warming. Not only will they need significant increase in resources to mitigate and adapt, but also have less resources to spend on bio-diversity, particularly conservation. And habitats across the planet will change as global warming impacts micro-climates, much faster than any species can adapt.

Although the report tries to sound optimistic, pointing out that 5 per cent of the species are recovering due to conservation interventions, this is just not adequate.

Breaking the Green Glass Ceiling

An irritating new trend is the number of books on green living. Make no mistake — I espouse green living myself. But not of the type the books talk about. A new book on the shelf is Green Chic : Saving the Earth in Style. It’s an interesting guide to reducing waste, consuming less and shunning products that aren’t sustainable. So far so good. Maybe that’s all the book wanted to say.