10/9/01
Do Conservationists Tell Fibs?
Richard Leakey, the Kenyan conservationist recently claimed the world is
losing between 50,000 and 100,000 plant, insect and animal species a year.

I would like to give some balanced facts on this subject.

*The world has 1.4 million identified species.
*The World Conservation Union listed only 104 bird species and 77 mammals as
extinct world wide  up to 1993 ("Environmental Science" - Botkin & Keller
-1998)

*Extinctions of plants and insects are less likely than birds or mammals due
to their long dormancy periods. Birds & mammals require living members to
continue their existance, hence their vulnerability to extinction.

*There are three known causes of extinctionism.
(1) Being directly hunted (e.g. Dodo)
(2) Being replaced by another species (e.g. Thylacine by the Dingo)
(3) Habitat destruction

* Based on the above information I believe the true number of world wide
extinctions over the last few centuries is likely to be much less than
Leakeys suggested 75,000 species per year and certainly not 1.5 million
species over the last 20 years, otherwise everything would be dead.

It is time the environmentally concerned moderate people challenged any
radical claims in the name of truth and honesty.
What evidence does Mr Leakey use to claim 50,000 to 100,000 species
extinctions per year and where is his list of the names of these species -
and not just this years list.  Where is last years list and the years before
and so on?

Of course Mr Leakey is not the first to claim exaggerated extinction rates.

In 1996 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) announced that 50 000 species
are going extinct each year due to human activity. And the main cause, they
said, was commercial logging. The story was carried around the world, and
hundreds of millions of people came to believe that forestry was the main
cause of species extinction.

During the past years, the WWF was asked by Greenpeace Founder Dr Patrick
Moore to provide a list of some of the species that have supposedly become
extinct due to logging. They have not offered up a  single example as
evidence. (see Patrick Moores Web site www.greenspirit.com/newscientist.htm)  


While  the environment needs to be looked after and species extinctions to
be halted, it should not need exaggerations or telling fibs to the public to
get the sensible actions required. The truth gets more respect in the long
run.

Leon Ashby "Barcoorah" Aramac Qld 4726 & Kongorong SA 5291
Convenor of Landholders for the Environment

Ph 0887389313