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SOS Rhino : In the News : Wildlife conservation facts to chew on

Wildlife conservation facts to chew on

  The Star Online
December 4, 2004

A total 15,589 species ­ from sharks to frogs to fir trees ­ are facing extinction and the figure is rising fast, revealed the IUCN World Conservation Union’s 2004 Red List of Threatened Species.

One in three amphibians, almost half of all freshwater turtles, one in eight types of birds and a quarter of all mammals are threatened. Still, only a fraction of known species have been assessed, so the Red List figure is a conservative estimate at best.

People, either directly or indirectly, are the main cause of the species’ decline. Habitat destruction and degradation, over-exploitation of wildlife for food, pets and medicine; introduced species, pollution and human-induced climate change are some of the main causes.

Rather than just about altruistic laments, species loss has serious implications for humans. Wild fauna and flora provide food, medicine and fuel, and help to filter water, decompose waste, generate soil and pollinate crops, so the repercussions from the loss can be wide-ranging.

The illegal global wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar business. A single rhinoceros horn can bring a poacher up to US$500 (RM1,900) and cost end-buyers between US$37,000 (RM140,600) and US$50,000 (RM190,000). Tiger skins sell for up to US$15,000 (RM57,000) and ramin wood (threatened by illegal logging) can vary from US$600 (RM2,280) to US$1,200 (RM4,560) per cubic metre.

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