In the space of five centuries, pollution, industrialization and human activities have contributed to the extinction of over 850 species. Even today, the trend is hard to reverse.
Worldwide, there are between 8 and 20 million species of plants and animals, of which 2 million are known. Of the 150,000 species listed by the IUCN, over 42,100 are threatened with extinction. Nearly a third of plants, amphibians and coral reefs are concerned, as are a fifth of mammals and reptiles, 14% of fish and 13% of birds.
On a European scale, it would appear that the animal species most at risk are snails, clams and fish. The European eel, for example, has been classified as “critically endangered” since 2008. Threatened by fishing, poaching and water pollution, the eel also has to contend with river dams that prevent it from migrating.
As far as pollinators are concerned, one in ten bee and butterfly species is threatened with extinction. The reasons for this decline are the use of pesticides and other pollutants, and the rapid degradation of their environment.
Mammals, too, are under threat. The monk seal, for example, is suffering the full force of excessive fishing, which is emptying its larder. To avoid humans, monk seals have to give birth in isolated rock cavities, leading to numerous accidents among newborns.
The Iberian lynx, meanwhile, is still considered “in danger of extinction”, but is gradually regaining its historic territory after coming close to extinction. From just 111 individuals in 2003, the species now numbers 600.