Saturday, March 03, 2018

World losing biodiversity at alarming rate: UN official

World losing biodiversity at alarming rate
Biodiversity is disappearing at a thousand times the natural rate, warned UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on Friday.

Speaking at an event to mark the World Wildlife Day, which falls on March 3, she called for joint efforts of consumers, communities, policy-makers and businesses to safeguard our planet's precious and fragile biological diversity.

For this year's World Wildlife Day, the spotlight falls on the big cats, including species such as cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers.

Mohammed said big cats have undergone a massive decline in recent times. Just over a century ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers in Asia. Today, fewer than 4,000 remain. They have lost 96 percent of their historic range, she said.

The story is similar for all the big cats, she warned. "They say cats have nine lives. Our big cats are on at least number eight."

Big cats are keystone species. Protecting them also protects the vast habitats they live in and the wide variety of life they harbor, she said.

She called for a new paradigm for conservation and the sustainable management of the habitats -- a paradigm that acknowledges that economic growth is not in direct conflict with conservation.

The two can and should coexist, she said. "Without sustainable development of communities, poaching and illegal trade will not be fully eradicated and biodiversity will not be protected."

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