1. FAILURE: THIRD OF OPEN OCEAN SHARKS THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION
Worldwide unsustainable commercial overfishing of sharks demonstrates an urgent need for new immediate action on a global scale to save them from extinction. The percentage of open ocean shark species threatened with extinction is higher for the sharks taken in high-seas fisheries, than for the group as a whole. Many open ocean sharks are taken mainly in high seas tuna and swordfish fisheries. Once considered only incidental “bycatch”, these species are increasingly targeted due to new markets for shark meat and high demand for their valuable fins, used in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. To source this demand, the fins are often cut off sharks and the rest of the body is thrown back in the water, a process known as “finning”. Finning bans have been adopted for most international waters, but lenient enforcement standards hamper their effectiveness.
2. SUCCESS: THE WORLD’S SMALLEST AND RAREST PIGS ARE COMING BACK!
The Pygmy Hog is the smallest and the rarest wild suid in the world. It stands barely 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) high and weighs up to 9kg (20lb). After 12 years of patient conservation effort, captive-bred pygmy hogs have adapted well in the wild within the grasslands of Assam in India. The main threats to survival of Pygmy Hog are loss and degradation of habitat due to human settlements, agricultural encroachments, dry-season burning, and deforestation. Fewer than 400 pygmy hogs are believed to found in the world and all of them are in Assam's Manas national park in the foothills of Bhutan. One lesson learnt is that persistence is crucial in conservation!
3. FAILURE: ORANGUTAN CLOSER TO EXTINCTION
More than 20,000 orangutans have been poached, killed by loggers or sold into the illegal pet trade in the past 10 years; it is indeed a very scary number! The Sumatran orangutan is Critically Endangered with numbers having fallen by 80% in the last 75 years. In Borneo, home to the second orangutan species, palm oil plantations have expanded 10-fold in a decade, and now take up 27,000 sq km of the island. Illegal logging reduces habitat still further, while another threat comes from hunting for food and the illegal international pet trade. Orangutan may vanish from the wild within 15 years!
4. SUCCESS: AFRICAN RHINOS ON THE RISE
Africa's white and black rhino numbers have shown annual growth rates of 6.8 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, since 1995. Rhino conservation in Africa is going from strength to strength thanks to anti-poaching interventions, conservation awareness, and cooperative efforts to ensure that local communities benefit from conservation efforts. One hundred years ago, there were 50-200 white rhinos, currently the population is about 14,500 individuals. However, the black rhino population is much lower with 3,700 individuals but slowly increasing as well.
5. FAILURE: A THIRD OF THE WORLD’S CORAL REEF SPECIES ARE FACING EXTINCTION
Built over millions of years, coral reefs are home to more than 25 percent of marine species, making them the most biologically diverse of marine ecosystems. As a group, reef-building corals are more at risk of extinction than all terrestrial groups, apart from amphibians. Before 1998, only 13 of the 704 coral species assessed were classified as threatened. Now, the number is 231. We must widespread the plight of coral reefs and enact new urgent conservation measures to protect and restore coral reefs. You can check out our coral reef photo gallery and an interview on ESI work to save coral reefs.
6. SUCCESS: ENDANGERED SALMON BACK TO SEINE IN PARIS
After 100 years absence along the Seine River, the Atlantic salmon is back! It is a great success story that shows that Atlantic salmon have returned to France's Seine River, with hundreds swimming past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. Historically, the Seine hosted a flourishing population of salmon, a migratory threatened species that return from the sea between December and June to their freshwater birth place to reproduce. When it comes to conservation, restoring an ecosystem pays off!
7. FAILURE: AMPHIBINS KEEP VANISHING AND DECLINING
Amphibians are the most threatened group of animals in the world, with one in three of the 6,000 recognized amphibian species at risk of extinction, about 200 are believed to be already extinct. Infectious diseases, habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, pollution, introduced species, and commercial use all impact amphibian survival. The trend is alarming and urgent large scale actions are needed. ESI considers the amphibian crisis one of the biggest biological challenges of the 21th century. You can learn more about amphibians or check out the extinct amphibian gallery.
8. FAILURE. INCREASED EXTINCTION TREATS TO MALAYSIAN FYLING BATS
The large flying fox could be extinct on the Malaysian peninsula in less than 6 years in the worst case scenario if the current trend of unsustainable hunting continues. The current population of flying foxes in peninsular Malaysia is 500,000 at the best. Around 22,000 of this bat are legally hunted each year and more killed illegally. The bats are hunted for food, medicine and sport. Shooting takes place at dusk as the bats set out to forage overnight. Government of Malaysia must ban the hunting of the world's largest fruit bat to boost conservation efforts. Check out our flying bat photo gallery!
9. FAILURE. BIG STRUGGLE FOR THE BROWN BEAR IN THE PYRENNEES MOUNTAINS
Despites over two decades of conservation efforts, the Iberian bears are still in big troubles. Even the recent releases of brown bears from Slovenia into the Pyrenees in an attempt to prevent the mountain region's indigenous Iberian bear from becoming extinct is having very mixed results. Numbers have declined in the Pyrenees because loggers and forest fires have encroached upon the bears' woodland habitat. Farmers have chopped down trees and parceled up forest areas. Human encirclement over the years has provoked the bears to react aggressively on occasions, which in turn has prompted illegal hunters to kill them with traps, poison or shotguns. One hope remains: Spain's Cantabrian region, mainly in Asturias shows that it is perfectly possible to live peacefully with bears.
10. SUCCESS. THE LARGE BLUE BUTTERFLY REMARKABLE RECOVERY
Once pronounced extinct in Britain in 1979, the reintroduction of the Large Blue to Britain is a remarkable success story that should give us hope and strength to save other endangered species and their habitats. Suitable habitat has been restored to more than 50 former sites, and the butterfly can be found on 33 of them in the south-west of England. The success of the Large Blue project relies on understanding the science behind the butterfly's complex life-cycle and the need for sensitive and appropriate land management along with conservation awareness.