Africa’s Western black rhino was officially declared extinct in 2011, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The subspecies was last seen in 2006. The Northern white rhino is also “teetering on the edge of extinction,” and Asia’s Javan Rhino may not be far behind if strong measures are not taken to stem poaching and improve conservation measures. This news came after the IUCN conducted a review of 60,000 species of animals and plants in order to update the Red List of Threatened Species.
The Southern white rhino faced extinction in the late 1800s until conservation measures were introduced and revived the population. Today some 20,000 southern white rhinos roam the wild, according to CNN. Had similar measures been implemented for the western black rhino and the northern white rhino, the two species might have thrived, Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN species survival commission said in a statement. “These measures must be strengthened now, he said, “specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction.”
The survey revealed that one quarter of all mammals are at risk of extinction, as are many plant species. And ocean fauna are not faring well either. IUCN reveals that five out of eight tuna species, an apex predator that is essential to a healthy marine ecosystem, are threatened or near threatened. Also essential natural service providers that form a crucial part of the food chain, 26 newly discovered amphibians are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Jane Smart, director of IUCN’s global species program said in a statement that the statistics offer both good and sobering news: “We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”
Image of Black rhino and Southern white rhino via Wikipedia