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Dozens of species declared extinct in latest IUCN report

Dozens of species declared extinct in latest IUCN report
© International Union for Conservation of Nature

Thirty-one species of plants and animals were officially declared extinct in a report from an international conservation body published Thursday, which detailed the continued challenges and successes faced by conservationists around the world.

The report, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), also indicated that more than 35,000 species of organisms on Earth are now threatened with extinction, including for the first time ever the entirety of the various global populations of freshwater dolphins.

In another shocking regional example documented in the report, experts declared nearly every species of freshwater fish native to the Philippines's Lake Lanao, pictured above, are extinct as a result of overfishing and habitat destruction brought on by invasive species; the remaining two species of native fish are considered "possibly extinct" due to their extremely low populations.

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Also now considered possibly extinct are dozens of tree frog species in Central and South America, a result of an epidemic of deadly fungi which causes chytridiomycosis, a disease threatening many amphibian species globally.

“As a conservationist, the most emotionally impactful news to present is the confirmation of extinction," said Dr. Thomas Lacher, Jr., a researcher with Texas A&M University.

"The causes range from overexploiting to disease, with some threats easier to mitigate than others. The impact of chytrid fungus on amphibian populations has been particularly vexing, challenging conservationists worldwide. There have been successes and recoveries, as noted in the update, and we need to redouble our efforts to address this and other emerging disease threats to biodiversity,” Lacher continued.

While the report held many dire warnings for conservationists, it also noted some successes in efforts to save populations of threatened species. Twenty-six species, including the European Bison, were declared to be "recovering" as a result of efforts to preserve habitats and support stable populations of the animals.

“The conservation successes in today’s Red List update provide living proof that the world can set, and meet, ambitious biodiversity targets. They further highlight the need for real, measurable commitments as we formulate and implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework,” added Dr. Jane Smart, global director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group, in a news release accompanying the report.