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The 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals
This site lists as far as I know all extinct, rare and threatened animals with brief information on all the animals listed. Categorised under subjects such as extinct, extinct in the wild, threatened etc.
Species of animal and plant will always become extinct. This is the natural process of selection commonly known as survival of the fittest. However, there is a difference between this natural process and the rapid acceleration of this process by the activities of man.
So far man has managed to name about 1.5 million species. It is possible that with current activities man may be responsible for the biggest mass extinction for 65 million years when almost 50% of species became extinct.
However, this was due to natural forces and not the result of the activities of one species. Man certainly has the capacity to destroy the worlds species but also has the power to save and preserve them. Man is causing extinction in 5 major ways:
As we enter the year 2000 man is currently overharvesting the worlds resources of animal and plant life. In fact, man (one species) is currently harvesting about half of all animal and plant life on the planet. Trees are currently being removed 10 times faster than new growth and in the sea 70% of fish species are being harvested faster than the rate at which they can reproduce.
2. Alien species
The second way in which man is contributing to extinction is the introduction of alien species. Primarily animals such as rabbits, rats and cats and numerous predators. Australia is a good example where the natural animal and plant life developed on an isolated continent and produced numerous unique species. However, man introduced a number of alien species to Australia and the natural wildlife which had no defences against the newcomers has declined or become extinct as a consequence.
3. Habitat Destruction
This may be the most significant way in which man is causing major extinctions. If you take away an animal or plants home it will die.
This is closely related to habitat destruction. Basically if you reduce an area of habitat a number of species may have to small an area in which to survive.
Here is a list showing both the greater acceleration of extinction as a result of the expansion of human population and thankfully showing that at last we may have recognised our responsibilities as a species:
The development of extinction
1650 In the seventeenth century 7 species became extinct
1750 In the eighteenth century 11 species became extinct
Stellars Sea Cow (1768)
Giant Moa (1773)
Elephant Bird (17th century)
1850 In the nineteenth century 27 species became extinct
Cape Lion (1885)
Great Auk (1844)
1900-1919 : 23 species became extinct
Passenger Pigeon (1914)
Carolina Parakeet (1914)
1920-1939 : 27 species became extinct
Barbary Lion (1920)
1940-1960 : 14 species became extinct
1960-1974 : 3 species became extinct
|Last Updated 04/02/2001|