Meal of the lemurs at the Sainte-Croix animal park (Moselle). - Floreal Hernandez

Is the great hamster of Alsace doomed? This is the concern expressed this Thursday by the IUCN, which has just published its new red list. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the lemurs of Madagascar, our large national hamster or even the North Atlantic right whale have taken a new step towards extinction, victims of human activities.

According to the UN biodiversity experts (IPBES), around one million of the estimated 8 million animal and plant species on Earth are threatened with extinction, including "many in the coming decades".

32,441 endangered species

But these figures are extrapolations based on the assessments of a fraction of the species, in particular on the famous red list of the International Union for the conservation of nature, reference in the matter which is enriched each year of the study. new species. Now, out of 120,372 species screened, 32,441 are threatened with extinction (13,898 vulnerable, 11,732 endangered and 6,811 critically endangered), i.e. more than 25%.

"The world must act quickly to halt the decline in populations of species and prevent extinctions caused by humans," said Jane Smart, director of the IUCN biodiversity conservation group. The 2020 red list supplements in particular the assessment of African primates, drawing particular attention to the lemurs, endemic to Madagascar.

Deforestation, hunting and destruction of habitats

Thus, 103 of the 107 species of lemurs are threatened, "mainly due to deforestation and hunting" and 33 of them are in critical danger, last category before extinction. Without the significant human and financial efforts deployed for its conservation (protected areas, reforestation, ecotourism ...) some, like the Sahafary's lepilemur "would undoubtedly already be extinct", notes Russ Mittermeier, primate specialist for the organization.

Map of the world showing, by country, the number of plant and animal species threatened with extinction, according to IUCN. - Sophie RAMIS, Jonathan WALTER / AFP

However, these campaigns did not prevent 13 species of lemurs from going into the “critically endangered” category, such as the sifaka and the cute mace, the world's smallest primate, both victims of the destruction of their habitat by slash and burn agriculture and logging. In the rest of Africa, more than half of the primate species (54 out of 103) are also threatened, such as the long-haired colobus, now critically endangered.

"The most expensive mushroom in the world"

This shows "that Homo Sapiens must radically change its relationship with other primates, and with nature as a whole," said Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of IUCN, whose congress to be held in June has was postponed to January 2021 because of the Covid-19.

The new red list is also worried about the fate of the European hamster, which is also going through critical danger. And "if nothing changes, the species could disappear over the next 30 years," said IUCN. The rodent, once abundant across Europe, as far as Russia, has now disappeared from three quarters of its original habitat in Alsace (where it is known as the great hamster of Alsace) and in Eastern Europe. Is.

The government to the aid of the great hamster of Alsace (Archives) - G. VARELA / 20 MINUTES

A regression linked to a rate of reproduction in free fall: a female today has on average 5 or 6 young per year, against 20 during most of the twentieth century. For multiple reasons it seems related to the extension of monoculture, industrial development, global warming or light pollution.

Towards a 6th mass extinction

The red list also sees the entry as “vulnerable” to the caterpillar fungus, “the most expensive in the world”. The red list finally highlights the danger hanging over the right whales of the North Atlantic, of which there were less than 250 adults at the end of 2018 (-15% since 2011). Victims of collisions with ships and fishing nets, but also of ocean warming, they are one step away from extinction.

While many scientists believe that the 6th mass extinction has started, "the red list is a barometer of life on Earth," commented Andrew Terry of the Zoological Society of London.


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