Animal Winners & Losers 2022

Animal Winners & Losers 2022

They still exist in the Red Sea – but the stocks of dugong manatees are threatened. © Cinoby/iStock

Lots of shadows, but also some light: With its review of 2022, the WWF is once again drawing attention to the global extinction of species. Representing the many endangered animal species, the environmental protection organization highlights some species that have fared particularly badly in the past year. However, the WWF also uses positive examples to show that it is worth working to preserve biodiversity.

Exploitation, loss of habitat and climate change: Humans are damaging the living environment of our planet in a variety of ways and the threats are constantly increasing. This is clearly reflected in the figures: The International Red List now lists more than 42,100 animal and plant species as threatened. This affects almost 30 percent of all species recorded there. A consistent fight against the extinction of species is also required for our own good, emphasizes WWF board member Christoph Heinrich: "If we continue to destroy our nature at this rate, we humans will also be among the big losers. Because from clean air to drinking water and food to a functioning economy, everything depends on healthy nature. We need them to survive.” In order to give the threat “faces”, the WWF is again putting some animal species in the spotlight at the turn of the year, which fared badly in 2022.

Loser 2022

dugong: The manatees may soon be gone from the shores of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific altogether, reports WWF. Stocks are declining sharply, according to Red List information from December. The species was reported to be functionally extinct in China in August. The leisurely swimming sea mammals are doomed by a combination of several threats: They often end up as bycatch, are poached, injured by boats and find less and less food due to the destruction of the seagrass beds.

Reindeer: The world's largest population of wild reindeer has plummeted to 250,000 from 417,000 in 2014, WWF reports. In 2000, this population living in the Russian Arctic consisted of one million animals. The consequences of climate change and poaching in particular threaten the famous deer species from the far north.

hoverflies: Of the 890 European species of this ecologically important group of insects, 314 are now considered threatened, according to the new International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The little aerial acrobats are particularly concerned about the change in land use, the use of pesticides and climate change.

white rhinos: Once again it became clear how the idiotic use of their horn substance in pseudomedicine was fatal to the colossus. In the last nine years, poaching has reduced the population of white rhinos in Africa from 20,600 to almost 16,000, reports the WWF.

Emperor Penguin: For those living in the far south of the world, 2022 was a bad year. The Antarctic conference failed to designate the largest penguin species as specially protected, the WWF denounced. In October, the planned designation of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean was then stopped. The emperor penguin colonies are particularly threatened by the consequences of climate change.

Fish in the Oder: The residents of the great river in eastern Germany were among the particularly drastic losers this year. The man-made catastrophe, which killed off masses of fish, was also a severe setback for the reintroduction of the Baltic sturgeon in the Oder.

Bison in the Rothaar Mountains: The support for the small herd of giants in North Rhine-Westphalia's Rothaar Mountains is dwindling. After the imminent end of the sponsoring association, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia rejects any responsibility for the strictly protected animals, the WWF complains.

Bright spots 2022

To give hope, the WWF once again compares the sad developments with successes in the fight against the loss of animal species. example tiger: Encouraging progress has been made in protecting the big cats. In Nepal there are now 355 specimens again - almost three times more than the 2009 estimate. There are also signs of a recovery in stocks in Bhutan, Russia, China and India.

Some shark and ray species: In November, the world conference for the protection of endangered species CITES campaigned successfully for better protection of ground sharks, hammerhead sharks and guitarfish. International trade in these representatives of sharks and rays should only be permitted if their stocks are not endangered.

Spix's Macaw: The small, blue parrots celebrated a comeback in their native Brazil last year. A total of 20 specimens were released - many more are to follow. Habitat destruction and illegal trade left only 55 Spix's Macaws in captivity in the early 2000s. Thanks to a breeding program, there are now around 261 animals again.

Banteng: Southeast Asian wild cattle were exterminated in Mae Wong National Park in Thailand in the 1970s. WWF employees have now been able to prove that the bantengs have returned there and are multiplying.

Humpback Whales: In 2022, the famous marine mammals in Australian waters were removed from the endangered species list. Their number there has risen from 1,500 to 40,000 to 65,000.

Loggerhead turtles: In the USA and on the Cape Verde Islands, more nests of these sea turtles have been found recently than in decades. However, the current recovery in stocks could be wiped out again in the long term by the climate crisis, the WWF points out.

Finally, the nature conservation organization emphasizes that in 2022 the World Convention on Nature adopted in Montreal also provided fundamental hope in the fight against species extinction. Heinrich comments: “The implementation has to work now. We don't get a second chance to save our planet."

Source: WWF World Wide Fund For Nature

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