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Looking-Glass Research
What is "Sustainable Loss" - and what is the Red List of Threatened Species?

VeggieBite ...
Although elephant hair jewellery has traditionally been harvested from the ground around trees where elephants have rubbed their bottoms on the tree-trunks, there is an increasingly potential risk that the hair has also come from poached elephants
Read more here

It is now estimated that the current extinction rate is up to 10,000 times higher than it should be under natural conditions.

"Sustainable loss" is a conservation measure to determine the survival chances of an entire species. Animal mortality caused by humans, rather than natural causes, means that the birth rate can't keep up with the overall death rate.
Anything on the Red List of Threatened Species is considered below the "sustainable loss" threshold, and indicates that mankind has annihilated enough of a single species to the point where it's unable to self-sustain its numbers. Or, to put it another way, an entire species ceases to exist in the near future - even if we stopped killing them right now.
The only way to reverse such a devastating process is to actively assist and encourage breeding of threatened species and to try and recreate previously destroyed habitats as well as conserve those that still exist.

On the verge of extinction

Even though you may, for example see a hundred gentle manatees swimming in a bay on your holiday, it doesn't mean they are safe in numbers. This is because their numbers are below the "sustainable loss" threshold. Out of 100 manatees it only takes five of them per year to be killed by boat propellers or fishing nets and that means their numbers over just a few years will diminish to zero, since they can't breed quickly enough to repopulate. And because their numbers dwindle each year, the harder it becomes for the animals to even find each other to mate.
Here's another example ... Right now there are only around 350 Northern Right Wales left in the world. The loss of just one more pregnant female could mean the end of the species. They die from collisions with fast moving ships and entanglement with fishing nets. Right Wales give birth to such few numbers of calves, and along with dramatic reductions in their food supplies due to over-fishing by humans, (see below) the future looks bleak for this docile creature.

Other causes of man-made non-sustainable loss are even linked to the natural food chain. If the number of fish are depleted in the sea through over-fishing then seabirds who once fed on the fish also decline in numbers as there is not enough food to keep their young alive. Sea pollution is also poisoning birds feeding on fish that ingest plankton and crustaceans, which are now known to be ingesting huge amounts of "invisible" micro-plastics and other human-generated hazardous waste that's clogging the oceans. This kind of chain reaction means that multiple species are declining since they are unable to replenish their numbers within and throughout the entire chain; ultimately falling below the "sustainable loss" level.
In the North Sea and off Canada's east coast, cod has fallen far below "sustainable loss", but are still being fished. Canadian fisheries claim that seals are responsible for the cod's decline and have used this as an excuse to kill millions of seals. In fact, research shows that cod only makes up around 3 percent of a seal's diet - the rest have been trawled to near extinction by the fish industry. The reality is that seal fur and meat is a 16.5 million dollar per year money spinner for Canada. It is estimated that there are only 6 million seals left from a previous population of around 50 million, and seals are fast moving towards the "non-sustainable loss" threshold.

There are countries who distort "sustainable loss" figures in an attempt to justify the killings of endangered species.
For example, Japan has become the most notorious member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), continuing to kill an unacceptable quota of whales annually. These highly contentious culls raise millions of yen through whale meat sales; but to try and appease the IWC, Japan contentiously calls the killings "scientific research". Marine conservationists however consistently prove that whales are highly endangered and most certainly below the "sustainable loss" threshold).

Animals and marine life often suffer the most due to the desires of decadent societies (and the emerging economies heading towards such aspirations). Former third world countries in parts of Africa the Far East are now destroying life and habitats at such accelerated rates that entire species are loosing the battle to survive on a yearly scale, rather than over scores of years as was once assumed.
The Mekong River Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon Gigas) was classified as critically endangered in 2003. This, the world's largest freshwater fish, has declined due to rapid economical development and over-fishing along the Mekong River, which runs through Northeast Thailand, southern Lao PDR and Vietnam.
The latest giant catfish species to be added to the endangered list is the Vietnamese Goonch or Chien (Bagarius yarielli). This has also been heavily over-fished due to high prices fetched at market due to demand by restaurants. And as Vietnam opens its doors to an increasing number of hedonistic western tourists on foolish quests for exotic delicacies, the catfish has headed towards extinction much faster than previously thought.

By mid 2007 it was announced that the Yangtze river dolphin in China (Baiji) is now extinct. After a count in 1997 of only 13 sightings, then a detailed hi-tech search by scientists in 2006, which found none remaining at all, this shows to be the next large aquatic mammal to become extinct since the demise of the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s due to over-fishing.
Both such extinctions are caused by the direct effect of mankind's destructive behaviour. The demise of the Yatzee river dolphin is an appallingly significant moment in this new millenium that clearly illustrates our continual inherent nature; to destroy rather than cure - to fullfill our squandering needs and ostentatious excesses rather than to help regenerate the planet that feeds us in the first place.

Each year 1,000 species are lost forever

Further inland, the future survival of many species is just as bleak. It's estimated that around 50,000 species of flora and fauna become extinct every year. Many of these are in areas of the world that are being deforested at an alarming, and obviously unsustainable rate.
Apes of all types, as well as big cats such as the Siberian tiger are nearing total extinction in the wild due to the destruction of forest and grasslands. In countries like Brazil and areas of Indonesia, the conservation redline" reference of "sustainable loss" is lost when faced with humanity's money-hungry exploitation of the world's natural resources.

It must also be mentioned that illegal activities, such as poaching (for bush meat) or logging and the removal of exotic species from their natural habitats to sell in the pet trade or the hunting of rare species for unproven medicinal purposes cause a dramatic impact in terms of "unsustainable loss". In fact more species end up on the endangered list through illegal activities than those "legally" harvested by humans.
Even if it's not already too late, it's only through man's direct help to replenish the numbers of all mammals, birds and fish on the extinction list that these threatened species might have any chance of existing in the future.
Disappearing polar bears and penguins due to melting ice floes are topics that many of us are becoming more aware of. Manmade global warming alone is now estimated to be reducing earth's species to one quarter it's current number by 2050 ... But that's another story.

Useful External Links
The Red List (http://www.redlist.org) web site is the definitive resource of species on the brink of extinction. The site is very comprehensive and may take time to get your bearings, but it's worth the effort to get to grips with the reality of the disappearing world around you ... and perhaps do something to help stop it.
More about the Right Whale at: http://www.rightwhaleweb.org/whale_facts.html

Useful Internal Links
Looking-Glass The Palm Oil Crisis
Whaling News at LGVN
Seal Slaughter - LGVN

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