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Endangered species

Colombia’s critically endangered species number more than doubles in 7 years

Colombia’s critically endangered species number more than doubles in 7 years
View of a frailejon plant, in the paramo of Oceta, department of Boyaca, Colombia, 15 June 2019 (Issued 17 June 2019). The paramo ecosystem of Oceta is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and among the best preserved in Colombia. In this country, 60 percent of the paramos are found worldwide, the rest are found in Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica. This ecosystem typical of the Andes is presented from 3400 meters above sea level, and is the habitat of unique plant species, such as the frailejon. The abundance of organic matter in their soils allows to store carbon in great proportion and is a great source of fresh water. The frailejon is a plant composed of 73 species of the same family, which can only be found in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. EPA-EFE/Oskar Burgos

BOGOTA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The number of critically endangered animal and plant species in Colombia has more than doubled since 2017 and the total list of threatened species in the Andean country stands at 2,103, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

The list includes two types of manatee – in the Amazon and the Caribbean – which are considered endangered, and a number of Colombia’s emblematic frailejon plant varieties which are considered vulnerable or endangered.

Colombia, with its soaring Andes mountains, lush rainforests and Pacific and Caribbean coasts, is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. It will host COP16, the UN biodiversity conference later this year.

It boasts more than 75,000 different species, the environment ministry said in a statement announcing “exhaustive technical” revisions to the threatened and endangered species list, which was last updated seven years ago.

“We call on environmental and regional authorities to take the necessary steps to protect these threatened species,” Vice Minister of Policy and Environmental Normalization Mauricio Cabrera said in a video message.

The number of critically endangered species – the most dire category – now stands at 465, up from the 182 registered in 2017, the ministry said.

A species is considered critically endangered when it shows significant population reduction and faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The number of endangered species increased by 87% to 801, the ministry said, while species considered vulnerable rose by almost 22% to 837.

The update comes at a time when Colombia and other Amazon countries are sounding the alarm over an intense El Nino weather pattern tied to drought and heightened the risk of wildfires.

A report published in the journal Nature on Wednesday warned that compounding stressors like drought and heat driven by climate change could affect between 10% and 47% of the Amazon’s existing forest and push it towards a tipping point.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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