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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Our animals are becoming extinct and it's all our fault!

The Holocene extinction:

The Holocene extinction event is a term used to refer to the ongoing extinction of numerous animal species due to human activities. It is named after the geologic period of the Holocene, which began 11,550 years ago (about 9600 BC) and continues to the present. The Holocene extinction has eliminated between 20,000 and several hundred thousand species over the course of the last 12,000 years. The Holocene extinction is composed of two major pulses: one pulse 13,000 to 9,000 years ago, during the end of the last glacial period, when much of the Pleistocene megafauna went extinct, and a recent pulse, starting around 1950, when mass deforestation and other human activities have resulted in the extinction of many species.

Animal species extinct from the first pulse of the Holocene extinction include several species of mammoth, the dire wolf, short-faced bear, cave lion, cave bear, cave hyena, dwarf elephants, giant swan, giant rat, mastodon, American cheetah, ground sloths, marsupials of many species, numerous giant flightless birds, and many other animals. Most scientists are in agreement that these animals went extinct due to human activity, as many of them disappear within 1,000 years of the introduction of humans to an area. Some of the most precise findings are from evidence in Australia and the Americas, which were relatively isolated until the arrival of humans.

Animals that have gone extinct recently, during the latest pulse of the Holocene extinction, include the dodo, aurochs (a large type of horned cattle), the tarpan (a small horse), the Tasmanian Tiger, the quagga (a zebra relative), Steller's Sea Cow (relative of the manatee and Dugong), the giant Aye-aye (a nocturnal primate), the Great Auk (a penguin-like bird from the Atlantic region), the passenger pigeon (with about five billion birds in North America, was formerly one of the most numerous birds on the planet), the Golden Toad of Costa Rica, and many others. Biologists agree that the current extinction rate of animal species is several hundred times higher than the typical background level.

The dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced mammals that ate their eggs.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011-2020 the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (Resolution 65/161). The UN Decade on Biodiversity serves to support and promote implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, with the goal of significantly reducing biodiversity loss.

What is a bio diversity Hotspot?
A biodiversity hotspot is a bio-geographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify under this definition, with nine others possible candidates. These sites support nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a very high share of endemic species.

The biodiversity hotspots by region:

North and Central America

·         California Floristic Province

·         Caribbean Islands

·         Madrean pine-oak woodlands

·         Mesoamerica

South America

·         Atlantic Forest

·         Cerrado

·         Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests

·         Tumbes-Choc√≥-Magdalena

·         Tropical Andes

Europe and Central Asia

·         Caucasus

·         Irano-Anatolian

·         Mediterranean Basin

·         Mountains of Central Asia


·         Cape Floristic Region

·         Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa

·         Eastern Afromontane

·         Guinean Forests of West Africa

·         Horn of Africa

·         Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands

·         Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany

·         Succulent Karoo

South Asia

·         Eastern Himalaya, India

·         Indo-Burma, India and Myanmar

·         Western Ghats, India

·         Sri Lanka

East Asia and Asia-Pacific

·         East Melanesian Islands

·         Japan

·         Mountains of Southwest China

·         New Caledonia

·         New Zealand

·         Philippines

·         Polynesia-Micronesia

·         Southwest Australia

·         Sundaland

·         Wallacea

High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas

High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas (HBWA) is an elaboration on the IUCN Protected Area classification of a Wilderness Area (Category Ib), which outlines five vast wilderness areas of particularly dense and important levels of biodiversity. The sub-classification was the initiative of Conservation International (CI) in 2003 to identify regions in which at least 70 percent of their original vegetation has remained intact in order to ensure that this is safeguarded and these regions do not become biodiversity hotspots. Currently the areas listed as HBWA's are:

·         Amazonia, Brazil

·         Congo Basin, The Democratic Republic of Congo

·         New Guinea, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea

·         North American Deserts, Southwest United States and Mexico

·         Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Savannas, South Central Africa

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