The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned of impending mass extinction “within the next decade—the largest since the dinosaur age,” that could push millions of animals and plants to the brink of extinction.
The stark prediction was made by the WWF’s Germany wing in its report “Winners and Losers of 2021,” which documents a list of animals whose existence is now acutely under threat, as well as conservation victories.
“Around one million species could go extinct within the next decade —which would be the largest mass extinction event since the end of the dinosaur age,” the organization said in a statement.
There are currently 142,500 animal and plant species on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in which 40,000 of them are “threatened with extinction.”
It is the largest number of species to be included on the Red List since it was established in 1964, according to WWF Germany.
Among the animals who are most acutely threatened are the African forest elephant, whose population has declined by 86 per cent within just 31 years, according to the WWF report.
Polar bears made the list as well, as the rapid melting of pack ice in the Arctic Ocean is making it impossible for the animals to adapt.
Experts estimate the Arctic Ocean could be completely ice-free in the summer of 2035, WWF Germany said.
Germany’s tree frogs and toads are also under threat, with 50 per cent of Germany’s native amphibian species currently listed as endangered on the national Red List.
Unabated construction is limiting their habitats while roads have become death traps, the report noted.
Grey cranes and migratory fish that move on land, as well as the noble pen shell — the largest clam in the Mediterranean Sea—also earned a spot on the list.
The WWF also pointed out there was some “ray of hope” in the world of environmental conservation this year.
The WWF said it achieved success in efforts to conserve the Indian rhinoceros population in Nepal.
As part of a cooperation with the government, stricter protection measures were implemented — which have helped the rhino’s population grow by 16 per cent since 2015.
Bearded vultures, blue whales and crocodiles in Cambodia also saw their population numbers grow, the report said.
(With inputs from agencies)