Life on earth is disappearing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so unless urgent action is taken, according to The World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) 2007 Red List of Threatened Species, released 12 September 2007.

Of the 41,415 species on the Red List, 16,306 are threatened with extinction, up from 16,118 in 2006. The total number of extinct species has reached 785 and a further 65 are found only in captivity or in cultivation. One in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians, and 70 percent of the world’s assessed plants on the 2007 IUCN Red List are in jeopardy. Of the countries assessed, Australia, Brazil, China, and Mexico hold particularly large numbers of threatened species.

The report was released just days after the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans met to discuss funding of the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007 (H.R. 1464) and the Great Cats Conservation Act of 2007 (H.R. 1771). The bills, introduced by Rep Udall (D-NM) and Brown (R-SC), would authorize appropriation of $5,000,000 for each fiscal year 2008 through 2012 into a separate account under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

H.R. 1464 is scheduled for markup 4 October and would also direct the Interior Department to fund international conservation projects for cats and canids listed under the IUCN Red List, the Endangered Species Act, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Dr. Eric Dinerstein of the World Wildlife Federation testified before the committee in September and noted that “the United States, primarily through programs administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, has played a critical role in the protection and conservation of these highly endangered species, and the legislation being considered here today furthers the U.S. leadership on these issues.”


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