More than 300 sharks, ray species threatened with extinction, new report says

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Thirty-one species of animals and fish have been declared extinct and more than 300 species of sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which released a report Thursday.

Species at risk include four species of hammerhead sharks, four species of angel sharks and the giant manta ray. The organization’s report – its first comprehensive global update since 2014 – paints a grim picture of the health of the world’s oceans and their inhabitants, and in particular highlights the threat of overfishing.

“These results are unfortunately predictable,” said Andy Cornish, head of the shark and ray conservation program at the World Wildlife Fund, in a statement. “Twenty years have passed since the international community recognized the threat of overfishing through the International Shark Action Plan. Yet clearly not enough has been done to stop the overfishing that is pushing these animals to the brink of extinction. “

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature regularly documents the state of the world’s animal and plant species and provides the most reliable reports on those that are threatened, critically endangered or extinct.

In the group’s update, a total of 316 species of sharks, rays, rays and chimaeras are now classified as “threatened” or threatened with extinction in the wild. All the world’s freshwater dolphin species are also threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.

The lost shark, Carcharhinus obsoletus, native to the South China Sea and last recorded in 1934, may already be extinct due to overfishing in one of the busiest marine regions on the planet, according to the report.

Cornish said the update should set off “alarm bells” and motivate governments to take action to reduce overfishing of sharks and rays.

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“Failure to do so will inevitably lead to a wave of extinctions under our watch,” he said in the statement. “We need to seize the moment to prevent this from happening.”

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has also found glimmers of hope. The European bison, the largest land mammal in Europe, is showing signs of recovery, its population in the wild increasing from 1,800 in 2003 to over 6,200 in 2019. The species has been reintroduced to the nature in the 1950s and was the focus of long-term conservation campaigns in the decades that followed. There are now 47 herds of European bison roaming free, according to the organization, with the highest numbers in Poland, Belarus and Russia.

Twenty-five other recovered species, including a type of tree frog native to Mexico, have been documented by the group.

These successes “provide living proof that the world can set and meet ambitious biodiversity goals,” Jane Smart, global director of her biodiversity conservation group, said in a statement.

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