The number of threatened flowering plants worldwide on IUCN's list has grown from 5,186 in 1998 to 8,084 this year. The nonprofit has evaluated 11,543 of these blossoming species out of an estimated 268,000.
More than 20 percent of freshwater species in Africa are on the brink of extinction, according to IUCN's latest assessment—a five-year study of 5,167 African freshwater fish, mollusks, crabs, plants, and insects.
The Singidia Tilapia Orecochromis esculentusis a type of cichlid that was once fished. It's now a victim of predation from invasive, and more aggressive, species.
According IUCN's final 2009 Red List, 37 percent of freshwater fishes—or 3,120 species—of those assessed are threatened.
This fragile damselfly (Pseudagrion kaffinum) was seen only in Ethiopia's southwestern highlands during IUCN's assessment of African freshwater species, published in September 2010. Growing human populations and wetland pollution threaten to wipe out the species completely.
"Freshwaters provide a home for a disproportionate level of the world's biodiversity," said Jean-Christophe Vié, deputy head of IUCN’s Species Programme, in a statement. "Although they cover just one per cent of the planet's surface, freshwater ecosystems are actually home to around seven per cent of all species."
Photograph courtesy Viola Clausnitzer
Rising Out of the Mud
Oxalis dines is another wetland flower is South Africa's Western Cape that is threatened by agriculture and grazing livestock. IUCN officials have said they hope the new report shines a spotlight on what's at stake in some of Africa's nascent, but large, water projects, including several dams.
“Africa is home to an astonishingly diverse range of freshwater species, many of which are found nowhere else on earth,” William Darwall, leader of the project and manager of IUCN’s Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, said in a statement.
Photograph courtesy Nick Helme
The "chambo" (Oreochromis karongae) is endemic to Lake Malawi and among the most valuable species for subsistence fishers in Africa. Because of over-harvesting, nearly 70 percent of the chambo in the lake have disappeared over the past ten years, threatening the livelihood of thousands of locals. Across sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 7.5 million people rely on freshwater fish for food and income.
“If we don’t stem the loss of these species, not only will the richness of Africa’s biodiversity be reduced forever, but millions of people will lose a key source of income, food and materials," said William Darwall, leader of the IUCN project and manager of the organization's Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, in a statement.
Photograph courtesy George F. Turner
Population growth threatens the only habitat this mollusk knows—a wetland in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province. Septaria tessellaria now appears on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.
A common creek crab, Liberonautes latidactylus is the most common freswater crab in western Africa. It prefers small streams in rainforests and savannahs, and is harvested for food. The crab now finds itself on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.
An estimated 126,000 known species rely on freshwater habitats, according to IUCN.