IUCN Red List press release on African Freshwater Biodiversity


IUCN announced today that twenty-one per cent of freshwater species in continental Africa are threatened with extinction, putting the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. With so much to lose, inland waters must be managed not just for their supply of freshwater but also to sustain the abundant life within.

In the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, 5,167 African freshwater species were evaluated by 200 scientists over a five-year period for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, including all known freshwater fish, molluscs, crabs, dragonflies and damselflies, and selected families of aquatic plants. Some of the biggest threats to African freshwater species come from agriculture, water abstraction, dams and invasive alien species.

Oreochromis karongae. Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Found in lake Malawi, East Africa (Photo courtesy: Pr. George F. Turner)

“This new study gives us a unique opportunity to try to influence developers and governments when they’re planning freshwater infrastructure projects, which are still in the early stages in most of Africa,” says Anada Tiéga, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “Until now we’ve not had the information we need about species and the threats they face but, armed with these IUCN Red List assessments, we hope that decision-makers in Africa will now make the right choices to develop their water resources in a sustainable manner whilst protecting and valuing global biodiversity.”

The full story can be viewed at www.iucn.org/species

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