Threatened Species: Overview

Most of ICFC’s work focuses on tropical ecosystems rather than particular species, although nearly all our land and marine conservation projects protect habitat for threatened species.

We also have several projects in which a threatened species or population is the primary focus and we are addressing threats such as rampant egg harvesting, illegal hunting, and invasive species.  These are all cases in which we are confident that we’re not fighting a losing battle: we know what the problems are and have solutions at a reasonable cost.

Species-centric projects bring benefits to other species and to ecosystems.  For example, our work in Bangladesh and Myanmar to end illegal hunting of the Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpiper is reducing mortality among the many other shorebirds sharing coastal wintering sites there.

Don’t forget populations…  While much focus is on species extinctions, an  important aspect of biodiversity loss is the shrinking ranges and declining populations of many species.  A recent study found that more than 40% of 177 mammal species had experienced severe population declines, with >80% range shrinkage. Because populations are locally adapted, this represents a serious loss of genetic diversity. It also impairs ecosystem functioning and the benefits that natural ecosystems provide to humans.

Camera traps capture rarely seen animals like this jaguar at Playa Nancita, Area De Conservación Guanacaste in Costa Rica. Photo: Luis Fonseca Lopez

Sixth Mass Extinction?

Paleontologists use the term mass extinction for periods when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened five times in the past.  In recent centuries hundreds of vertebrate species have gone extinct, a rate more than 100 times the “background” extinction rate.  Some scientists believe that this represents an incipient sixth mass extinction – one that can still be largely averted through intensified conservation efforts.

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