By Ananth Baliga
The latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which assessed 71,576 species, found that 21,286 are threatened with extinction, including the Okapi and the White-winged Flufftail.
The Okapi, a national symbol in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a close relative of the giraffe unique to the forests there. Poaching and habitat loss along with the presence of rebels and illegal miners has pushed the species one step away from extinction. It is now listed as Endangered.
“Sadly, DRC has been caught up in civil conflict and ravaged by poverty for nearly two decades, leading to widespread degradation of Okapi habitat and hunting for its meat and skin. Supporting government efforts to tackle the civil conflict and extreme poverty in the region are critical to securing its survival,” said says Dr Noëlle Kümpel with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The small and secretive White-winged Flufftail is also facing the risk of extinction. The bird, a native of Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, is dwindling in numbers due to destruction of its habitat and other factors including overgrazing by livestock, cutting of marsh vegetation and conversion of land for agriculture.
But it wasn't all bad news. Two species of albatross, the leatherback turtle and the Island Fox native to California’s Channel Islands were showing signs of recovery.