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THE ROAD TO PERDITION: What We’ve Lost – Animal Species Declared Extinct in 2020

Dozens of frogs, fish, orchids and other species, many unseen for decades, may no longer exist due to humanity’s destructive effects on the planet.

JOHN R. PLATT: A few months ago a group of scientists warned about the rise of “extinction denial,” an effort much like climate denial to mischaracterize the extinction crisis and suggest that human activity isn’t really having a damaging effect on ecosystems and the whole planet. That damaging effect is, in reality, impossible to deny.

This past year scientists and conservation organizations declared that a long list of species may have gone extinct, including dozens of frogs, orchids and fish. Most of these species haven’t been seen in decades, despite frequent and regular expeditions to find out if they still exist. The causes of these extinctions range from diseases to invasive species to habitat loss, but most boil down to human behavior…

This year the IUCN — the organization that tracks the extinction risk of species around the world — announced several conservation victories, including the previously critically endangered Oaxaca tree-frog (Sarcohyla celata), which is now considered “near threatened” due to protective actions taken by the people who live near it. “We can turn things around. We don’t just have to sit there and cry,” says conservation scientist Stuart Pimm, founder of the organization Saving Nature…

There’s reason for hope: When we devote energy and resources to saving species, it often works. A study published in 2019 found that conservation efforts have reduced bird extinction rates by 40 percent. Another recent paper found that conservation actions have prevented dozens of bird and mammal extinctions over just the past few decades. The new paper warns that many of the species remain critically endangered, or could still go extinct, but we can at least stop the bleeding…

But at the same time, we need to recognize what we’ve lost, or potentially lost. We can mourn them and vow to prevent as many others as possible from joining their ranks. With that in mind, here are the species that scientists and the conservation community declared lost in 2020, culled from media reports, scientific papers, the IUCN Red List. SOURCE…


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