The magical world of deep sea creatures, the majestic flight of the falcon and the recent tragic oil spill in the Sundarban captured the imagination of children yesterday as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List. The day was an opportunity for people in Bangladesh and also around the globe to celebrate the natural beauty of our planet and to reflect on the essential role biodiversity plays in our lives.
The planet is an enchanting place, home to numerous creatures - billions upon billions of the tiniest. Half a century ago there was no single source that provided a global picture of which species were endangered. Sir Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and one of the founding fathers of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature was desperately worried about the present and the future of wildlife. This marked the beginning of the most comprehensive global inventory of the world’s wildlife that would continue a trophy-journey for years to come.
It is now known to everyone that The IUCN Red List is the starting point for conservation! 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List. Since its conception in 1964, the Red List has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive information source on the extinction risk of animal, fungi and plant species. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyze action among science, activism and politics.
To date, there are more than 74,000 species assessed on the IUCN Red List. A new goal of IUCN is to assess a total of 160,000 species by 2020. Thus, in 6 years the number of wild species assessed might more than double. In case of such development, the Red List will become the most up-to-date indication of the health of the world’s biodiversity. IUCN thinks that in order to achieve this goal it needs to increase the number of involved experts, significantly increase the number of species being assessed each year, and conduct regular reassessments of species groups.
Like other countries of the world, IUCN Bangladesh Country Office is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of The IUCN Red List. To mark the occasion, IUCN organized a day-long event on Monday, December 22, 2014 at the Bangabandhu International Convention Center (BICC). The event included two technical sessions which were participated by scientists, wildlife biologists, nature lovers, conservationists, students, media, policy makers, development partners, etc. The technical sessions highlighted research/projects/initiatives carried out by the individuals/institutions to uphold their contribution to enrich the knowledge of wildlife of Bangladesh in a wider context. Also during the celebrations students from different schools in Dhaka took part in a biodiversity inspired art competition.
‘Today we learnt many things about the biodiversity and ecosystem. The mangrove forests, under water species like marine turtles, dolphins, sharks are our friend. Besides, all large and small species in the world are essential for our ecosystems. We need to protect them to save the whole biodiversity of the world’, said Rubaayar Hasan, a standard 6 student of Surbihar Music and Art School, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mr Khandakar Rakibur Rahman graced the occasion as the Chief Guest while Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Md Yunus Ali, Project Director, Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection Project, Mr Md Akbar Hossain, Country Representative, IUCN, Mr Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad were present at the occasion. The event was organized under the aegis of IUCN project “Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh" under the Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection Project (SRCWP) of the Bangladesh Forest Department.
“2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List. Since its conception in 1964, the Red List has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive information source on the extinction risk of animal, fungi and plant species. IUCN has published a book of papers and abstracts on the wildlife biology and conservation research on this occasion”, said Mr Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad. He wished that the project would help the Government to adopt time-bound measures to conserve the species which are facing vulnerabilities.
To mark the 50th anniversary of The Red List, IUCN launched a book today titled “The Festschrift on the 50th Anniversary of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species” which is a compilation of abstracts and scientific papers from scholars. The book contains latest findings like three new species of butterflies and five sea grasses. It has also documented the radio-telemetry study of Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) and elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) which were conducted for the first time in Bangladesh. Besides, researchers and scholars presented their latest findings on various species which were broadly discussed during the panel discussion.
“Field investigations are going on under the project in the less studied areas of Bangladesh and has been successful inventing new record of species which is enriching knowledge”, said Dr Mohammad Ali Reza Khan, Chief National Technical Expert of the Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh.
The aim of the event was to create an interaction between science and policy which would eventually pave the way of better conservation of wildlife in Bangladesh. This was also an initiative to create a knowledge hub on the species conservation and sustainability of Biodiversity.