Portuguese species on world risk of extinction list

MORE THAN 150 animals and plants indigenous to Portugal, Madeira, the Azores and Portuguese coastal waters have made it onto the International Union for Nature Conservation’s Red List of seriously endangered species.

Among the creatures facing extinction within 50 years, if drastic action isn’t taken in terms of conservation and protection of habitats, are the Iberian Lynx, Madeira Snails, a number of birds including Zino’s Petrel, the Great Bustard, Aquatic Warbler, Lesser Kestrel, the Imperial and Spanish Eagles, fish such as the Dusky Grouper, Iberian Barbel, Common Sturgeon, and White and Snapper Sharks, as well as the White-Clawed Crayfish and even insects such as the Shinning Dragon Fly.

The startling results were revealed in a study presented at the IUNC’s World Congress on October 14 in Barcelona, Spain.

However, molluscs seem to be the worst at risk of extinction from development and climate change with 67 species of snails from Madeira and the Azores making the Red List.

This was followed by 38 species of fish, both freshwater and saltwater, and a total of 11 mammals, including the Iberian Lynx which has not been seen in Portugal for years.

The same study warned that one in every three mammal species worldwide was threatened with extinction.

“The number of mammals threatened could reach as high as 36 per cent,” estimates Jan Schipper, an IUCN specialist and one of the main authors of the report which was published recently in the United States magazine Science.

In the article, the team of international specialists highlight 188 mammals which are in the Maximum Threat Category as being “in critical danger of extinction,” including the Iberian Lynx whose population is believed to be anything from between 84 and 143 adults.

“The 2008 IUCN Red List reveals 22 per cent of Portugal’s native species are threatened with extinction, including 12 per cent of its 91 native mammals. This is more than just statistics; if the alarm calls of the IUCN Red List are ignored, Portugal risks losing a large part of its native animals and plants forever,” said Caroline Pollock of the IUCN Unit at Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

To see the full list of endangered species on the Red List consult the IUCN website www.iucn.org