At the recent IUCN Conference held in Barcelona, the new 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was made public. The Red List now includes 16,928 species that are threatened with extinction. Of these, 3,246 are Critically Endangered, the highest category of threat; 4,770 are Endangered and 8,912 are Vulnerable to extinction.
This year an extinction crisis has been confirmed, after the most comprehensive assessment of the world’s mammals has revealed that almost one in four species are at risk of disappearing forever. The findings show that 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals known on Earth are threatened with extinction, with at least 76 mammals having become extinct since 1500. However, the situation could be even worse, as 836 mammals are listed as Data Deficient. As information improves, more species may well prove to be in danger of extinction.
The protection of wilderness areas across the world fits hand-in-hand with the struggle to protect diminishing species and biodiversity. These wild landscapes form the mattress on which all other life exists. The urgency that faces us all in creating awareness in as many people as possible is evident and continues to be a focus of our work.
Most ordinary people only learn about this crisis through the media and thank heavens for David Attenborough, Jonathon Scott and others who reach homes and minds. Our work is cut out to take this awareness deeper and further by growing connections that are through experience of wild places – giving a visceral connection rather than a cerebral one.