According to the Red List of Threatened Species which has been compiled by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 28,000 species all over the planet are threatened. Updated on Thursday, it estimated the risk of extinction for almost 106,000 species and identified that more than a quarter are in trouble.
IUCN uses highly rigorous criteria to determine each species thus setting the global standard guide to extinction risk of biodiversity. In the recent update, 105,732 species were ranked from the category of least concern to critically endangered and extinct. According to this update, there are 28,338 threatened species while 873 species have been extinct since the year 1500. These numbers might seem small however only 1 percent of the flora and fauna of the planet have been assessed formally by IUCN.
An excess of 7000 species were added to the Red List which includes 501 Australian species which includes dragonflies and fish. The shortfin eel has been classified as near threatened due to poor river management, land clearing and deficiency of nutrients. Twenty Australian dragonflies were assessed which includes five species facing threat from loss of habitat and degradation. Expansion of mining and urban areas pose threats to western swiftwing which is found in Western Australia.
The species of rhino rays which consists of wedgefishes and large guitarfishes, ranging from Australia to Eastern Atlantic are quite close to extinction. Six giant guitarfishes and nine wedgefishes out of ten are critically endangered. In the Eastern Atlantic ranges and wider Indo-Pacific regions, the rhino ray population are subjected to unregulated exploitation. Overfishing for meat and their valuable fins have led to this condition. Trading of their meat is an important part of coastal livelihood and food security in tropical nations. Due to demand for shark fin soup, the white fins of rhino rays are very valuable and often fetch nearly a thousand dollars for every kilogram.
The clown wedgefish belonging to Indo-Malay Archipelago has been seen only once in more than 20 years when a dead specimen was photographed by a local researcher in Singapore fish market. The fishing of false shark ray belonging to Mauritania in West Africa has taken a high toll as there have been no recent sightings.
Small fishing boats have increased from 125 in 1950 to 4000 in 2005. This rise in fishing is seen in tropical nations of Indo-West Pacific, where maximum rhino rays are found.
Effective rhino ray conservation needs a number of measures such as protection of national species, management of habitat, bycatch reduction and restrictions on international trade. The implementation of these measures needs effective enforcement and compliance. If we cannot save the rhino rays, it translates to our ineffectiveness of managing the extinction crisis. Due to inaction, there will be a loss of biodiversity and eventual collapse of ecosystems.