Hippopotamus among 26,000 new species on endangered list

A A A

More than 26,000 species of animals, birds, plants and fish will this week be added to the list of those in serious danger of extinction. Thousands of species including the common hippotamus are to be added or moved up the so-called "red list" drawn up by The World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The alarming study by the union, one of the most authoritative pictures of world flora and fauna, will make clear that global warming and human activity is responsible.

The report will confirm that the common skate, once abundant around Britain, has been virtually wiped out. The fish is still stocked by some supermarkets and fishmongers, but there is increasing pressure on them to ban it in the same way that cod has been removed from many retailers' shelves.

Sharks, skates and rays are all thought to be vulnerable. Around 20 per cent of sharks are in increasing danger of extinction, the study says. The giant devil ray, similar to a manta ray, is often accidentally caught in nets intended for tuna and other fish.

David Sims, senior research fellow at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory at Plymouth, said that one of the main problems with sharks and rays was that they bore live young so that they reproduce more slowly. "Global fisheries are having a massive effect on population. Some of the nets they use could engulf St Paul's Cathedral," he said.

The new research by the IUCN is the result of two years' work by scientists all over the world and adds to the picture revealed in the union's last report in 2004 which said that 15,589 species faced extinction - 7,266 animals and 8,323 plants and lichens.

While the latest analysis confirms the plight of the polar bear - because climate change threatens its Arctic habitat - more surprising was the threat to the common hippo. Researchers at the IUCN found that biggest problem was posed by poachers killing the creatures for the ivory in their teeth.

One of the creatures predicted to die out is the Yangtze river dolphin or Baiji. It is thought that just 30 remain and that the chances of breeding-age pairs meeting is extremely low.

Chris Butler-Stroud of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said that the animal was in effect extinct.

The endangered species in the 2004 report included one- third of amphibians and half of all freshwater turtles. At least 15 species had died out over the previous two decades and another 12 survived only in captivity.

Many more, however, are thought to have become extinct without having been recorded. A conservative approach to declaring species lost means that others, which are not yet formally classed as extinct, have probably died out.

Among 3,330 species newly assessed as threatened in 2004 included the fabulous green sphinx moth, from the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, and the African begonia from Cameroon. Most of the new additions in 2004 were amphibians, joining the red list after the Global Amphibian Assessment that revealed one in three species of frog, toad, newt and salamander were under threat.

The Jambato toad from Ecuador, the golden toad from Costa Rica and the kama'o bird from Hawaii were among the species declared extinct over the past two decades.

Britain had nine critically endangered species - the category at greatest risk - including the slender-billed curlew and the sociable lapwing (both rare visitors here) and Spengler's freshwater mussel. Another 49 species are classed as endangered or vulnerable, including the Atlantic cod and the Scottish wildcat.

Between 1.6 million and 1.9 million species are known to science, but the total is usually estimated at between 10 million and 30 million - and many of those described and classified are poorly understood.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell