【明報專訊】Facing overdevelopment, climate change, environmental pollution, habitat changes and the threats posed by foreign species, some species are in danger of extinction. It is absolutely possible that the demise of one species can eventually destroy the food chain and affect ecology. Currently more than 800 species of animals and plants are under threat of dying out.
◆IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), evaluates the conditions of animals, plants, and fungi in an effort to conserve the species. The species fall into eight categories after a global evaluation:
Extinct (EX) – No known individuals remaining
Extinct in the wild (EW) – Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalised population outside its historic range
Critically endangered (CR) – Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
Endangered (EN) – High risk of extinction in the wild
Vulnerable (VU) – High risk of endangerment in the wild
Near threatened (NT) – Likely to become endangered in the near future
Least concern (LC) – Lowest risk (does not qualify for a more at-risk category; widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.)
Data deficient (DD) – Not enough data to make an assessment of its risk of extinction
◆Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
The convention, signed by a host of countries in 1973, regulates the import and export of endangered species through a license system. As of March 2009 it had 175 signatory countries, one of which was Hong Kong. Our city implements the convention through the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance. Under the ordinance, more than 30,000 endangered species of animals and plants are classified into three appendixes:
Appendix I: includes over 800 highly endangered species threatened with extinction. Commercial trade in specimens of these species is prohibited.
Appendix II: lists over 32,000 species which are not presently threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is controlled. Their trade is allowed but subject to licensing controls.
Appendix III: includes species identified by any Party to CITES as requiring cooperation in controlling their trade. Their trade is subject to permits or certificates of origin.
■Some endangered species
Polar bears are a vulnerable species. According to a research report published by the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters in 2016, the ongoing reduction in the area of sea ice was making it hard for polar bears to hunt seals, because of which its population could drop by one third by mid-21st century.
The yellow-breasted bunting is a critically endangered species. Due to stories about its nutritional and medical benefits circulated in mainland China, the yellow-breasted bunting has been hunted in vast numbers over the past decades. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature said that illegal hunting for its meat was the main reason for its rapid reduction in numbers.