The new Red List (see report by BBC) is out. And polar bears and hippos are amongst the new members in Red List of Threatended Species. This means that they are at risk of being extinct. In fact, the organisms listed numbered 16, 119. This number is one third of the total number of animals surveyed.
99% of the cause of decline for aniamls such as the polar bear and the hippo is human activities such as habitat degredation and climate change.
The increase in the red list is both a indication of intensified studies by researchers and also a sober indicator of how little we know about the environment around us.
Why should we care? One may ask, when we had already lost 90% of species that ever existed, due to mass extinctions. In fact as Tim Halliday (BBC writer) aptly put it, maybe it’s time we just try to document whatever we can before the species disappear completely. That was the feeling I got when I had this chance to join RMBR for an expedition to Natunas Island, catch what you can and document everything. At least the organism is not lost to science before it disappears completely from the face of this earth. Sometimes one just do what one can.
Yet all is not bleak as Jeffrey A McNeely, the chief scientist at IUCN-The World Conservation Union, rightly pointed out. No doubt there is a limitation to our resources. How do one decide whther to invest money in saving biodiversity vs budgetting for healthcare and treatment of diseases.
Where does conservation stand in the myriad of issues which surrounds the world? Yet I think there is no lack of resources. Sometimes you do not need alot of money to conserve a species or a habitat. Like how a few courageous and determined minds got together to try and conserve Chek Jawa in Singapore. These people really do have my respect. They act, do what they can, and hope for the best. Sometimes the reward could be so fulfilling, such as granting an extended lease to a rich marine habitat, conserving the organims living there and also enriching the lives of the countless visitors who had since visited this beautiful place.
Elections are coming, it is will be interesting to see if any candidate or party brings up conservation of Singapore’s natural habitats as an election topic.
That will be the day.