the panda is safe, the animals at risk-

of Alessandro Sala

In the red list of the IUCN there are 3,483 species classified as critically endangered, the last step before extinction. Among them also gorillas, rhinoceros, vaquitas and several primate families

For years it has been the symbol of biodiversity threatened by human activities, the virtual spokesperson for animals at risk of extinction, so much so that the WWF had adopted it by choosing it as its banner. The panda, however, his battle for survival had already been won in 2016 when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – which annually updates the red list of endangered species – certified a significant increase in specimens in nature, passing the species from a condition of critical risk to that of vulnerable. Now even China, which in recent years had continued to consider him at risk to continue with pushed conservation policies, has declared him out of danger. Who will take his place as the new standard-bearer of the defense of the animal kingdom?

Unfortunately there is plenty of choice. The animals of every order that are in danger of disappearing from the face of the Earth, at least in nature, at the moment – the continuously updated IUCN list – are 3.483 if we consider only those classified as critically endngered, to which are added the 5.426endagered. Then there are 6.592 species considered vulnerable, the same category the panda is now in. And among these also the most iconic for the collective imagination: the leone, the tiger in all its subfamilies (three are already extinct: the Bali tiger, the Java tiger and the Caspian tiger), the leopard. But the step to ending up in the highest risk categories can be very short. That is why it would be important to seriously worry about it right now. Many conservation projects have been launched in different parts of the world, by non-profit organizations and more sensitive local institutions. However, three families are already too close to the brink of extinction rhinos (Java, Sumatra and black), theAfrican forest elephant, the little cow (a rare porpoise of which only a few dozen specimens survive all over the world), the North Atlantic right whale, the gazelle dama, the bradipo pigmeo, most of the families of turtles and different types of insects, rodents, birds. And firsts, starting from gorilla and fromTapanuli orangutan, in whose vulnerability, because of similarities, the human being can only see his own.

But man should also see the outcome of his actions in the loss of biodiversity, that is, a defeat. The disappearance of many species to be attributed exclusively to human activities: the indiscriminate hunting, especially in the past decades and centuries, the poaching, l’urbanization pressing that takes away space from nature, theforest clearing for the creation of pastures or areas for the cultivation of monocultures, whose productions are often the prerogative of agri-food multinationals. And finally thepollution e i climate changes generated by it. Habitat loss prevents nature from self-regulating and over time the weakest or most targeted species disappear.

Again according to the IUCN database, the species threatened in the main danger levels are overall 37.400, which represent 28% of the species monitored. In danger are the 41% amphibians, the 26% of mammals, on 14% of birds, the 36% sharks and rays. The red list also tells of how already 778 species of animals that once inhabited the planet are already completely extinct and like others 37 are extinct in nature, surviving to the limit only in some zoological gardens devoted to the conservation of species. The victory of the panda over a destiny that in the past decades seemed therefore to be marked as an excellent sign. But in a context that does not lead to much celebration.

July 10, 2021 (change July 12, 2021 | 14:00)


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