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The Dangers of Extinction in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines—Future generations of Filipinos may not be able to see a living Philippine Eagle, the national bird, and 424 other animal species found in the country. This figure from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is equivalent to 37 percent of the 1,137 animal species in the Philippines recorded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Of the species under threat of extinction, 42 are considered critically endangered, the highest threat level. Sixty-five are classified as endangered, while 318 are vulnerable to extinction.

Habitat loss

The IUCN cites habitat loss due to deforestation and overhunting as among the main threats to the survival of species.

The Philippines, a country known for its biodiversity, is also host to 14,000 plant species. The IUCN estimates that 216 of these are in danger of disappearing from the face of the planet. Of this number, 130 are vulnerable, 34 are endangered and 52 are critically endangered.

The Philippine Eagle was classified as critically endangered as early as 1994. There are only about 180 to 500 mature Philippine Eagles left, according to recent estimates.

The Tamaraw of Mindoro falls under the same category, with about 300 individuals left. The Tamaraw population is expected to decline by more than 25 percent over the next three decades, according to the IUCN.

Other endemic species classified by the IUCN as critically endangered are the Cebu Flowerpecker, Philippine Cockatoo, Philippine Crocodile, Philippine Pond Turtle, Visayan Warty Pig and Sulu Hornbill.

They are among the 39 mammals, 67 birds and 9 reptiles in the country that are considered threatened.

Red list

The IUCN assessed 44,838 animal species all over the world and came up with a “red list” of threatened species, which was released last month during a world conservation congress in Barcelona, Spain. The organization found that 38 percent of the species (16,928) are under threat of extinction.

Of this number, 3,246 are critically endangered, 4,770 are endangered and 8,912 are vulnerable to extinction.

Mammals suffer from an “extinction crisis,” with at least one in four mammalian species (1,141 of 5,487) at risk, says the IUCN. The group blames habitat loss and degradation—said to be most extreme in South and Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Africa and Madagascar—for this crisis.

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