Over 11,000 plants and animals face extinction
GENEVA - Some 11,170 plant and animal species face extinction, including a European lynx which could become the first wild cat species to have disappeared for thousands of years, a major conservation group said.
The Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN) also sounded the alarm about the saiga, a nomadic antelope of Central Asia whose population has dropped by more than 90 percent in just 10 years due to poaching.
The IUCN\'s \"Red List of Threatened Species\" says Indonesia, India, Brazil and China are home to the most threatened mammals and birds, while plant species are declining rapidly in South and Central America, Central and West Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Some 124 species, mainly plants, have joined the threatened list since it was last issued in September 2000. At the same time, two species believed extinct have been \"rediscovered\".
They are the Lord Howe Island stick insect, which was previously thought to have disappeared from the Australian island in 1920, and the Bavarian pine vole, the IUCN said.
The population of Iberian lynx, which numbered 1,200 in the early 1990s, has dropped to less than half in the wake of efforts to control rabbits, its main prey, in Spain and Portugal.
\"There are fewer than 20 Iberian lynx in Portugal, it is really on its way out there and will be very soon in Spain,\" Peter Jackson, of the IUCN\'s cat specialist group, told Reuters.
The IUCN said that although several sub species of wild cat, including a number of tigers, have disappeared, the Iberian lynx would be the first full species to die out since humans began keeping any kind of record more than 2,000 years ago.
Habitats with the highest number of threatened mammals and birds are lowland and mountain tropical rainforest. Freshwater habitats are also extremely vulnerable with many threatened fish, reptile, amphibian and invertebrate species.
The IUCN\'s information comes from a network of 7,000 experts and data from partner groups including BirdLife International.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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