Beetles threaten ash trees in US
AN invasive beetle has driven North America’s most widespread ash tree towards extinction, experts said yesterday, also warning of dramatic declines among several African antelope species.
In an update to its “Red List” of threatened species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said six of North America’s most prominent ash species were now critically endangered -- just one step from becoming extinct.
The species are being destroyed by the invasive and fast-moving emerald ash borer beetle which arrived in the northern state of Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s via infested shipping pallets.
The IUCN highlighted five species of African antelope whose numbers have declined drastically, largely due to poaching and habitat degradation.
The world’s largest antelope, the giant eland, which is native to central and western Africa, was previously assessed as having a sound population.
It is now listed as vulnerable, with fewer than 10 000 mature animals remaining.
And the mountain reedbuck has seen a 55% drop in its South African population over just 15 years, placing it on the endangered list, the IUCN said.
The IUCN also noted sharp declines among Madagascan grasshoppers and millipedes, with nearly half of them listed as endangered.
The Red List, meanwhile, said all hope was out for the pipistrelle bat, which was endemic to Australia’s Christmas Island, and which has now officially been declared extinct.