- A recent report by The World Wildlife Fund indicates that world-wide populations of animals, birds and fish have shrunk by 60 per cent in four decades. This is due to harmful activities by humans (eg deforestation and other types of habitat destruction; over-fishing: and pollution of land, water and air).
- In the UK, a quarter of native mammals are now at risk of extinction.This is according to the first Red List of UK mammals – a comprehensive review of the status of species, including wildcats, red squirrels and hedgehogs. The Red List is the official list categorising species based on their conservation status – or how threatened they are. Compiled after a review of all the available evidence on mammal populations, threats to their survival and to their habitats, the list has to meet the internationally-agreed criteria for assessing the conservation status of different species.
Successful re-introductions of endangered species
There have been two recent success stories in the UK, in terms of re-introduction of threatened or extinct species:
Red kite: in 1990, 13 red kites had to be flown by jet plane from Spain before they could grace the skies of the Chilterns. Thirty years on, nearly 2,000 breeding pairs of red kites display their distinctive forked tails as they soar over nearly every English county, in one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the world.
Large Blue butterfly: about 750 large blue butterflies, which had become extinct in the UK, emerged on to Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this summer after 1,100 larvae (from Sweden) were released last autumn following five years of innovative grassland management to create optimum habitat.
Programmes to re-introduce golden eagles, white-headed eagles, white storks and beavers are also underway.