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Endangered species to get daily web spot in 2010

Thu, 12/31/2009 - 6:30am
Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) - Endangered species from polar bears to giant salamanders, great white sharks to beluga whales and Namibian quiver trees to Cuban crocodiles will have their day on the Internet throughout 2010.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said on Thursday it would issue throughout the coming year an extensive daily portrait of each of the 365 animals, birds and plants most under threat of disappearance.

"It is time for governments to get serious about saving species and making sure it is high on their agenda for next year, as we're really running out of time," said Jane Smart, a biodiversity expert at the Swiss-based IUCN.

"The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting," Smart said. A third of the some 1.8 million identified species were under growing threat.

Experts believe there could be as many as 6 to 12 million more species as yet unknown to science.

From January 1 2010, declared the U.N. Year of Biodiversity, IUCN will draw on latest research for its annual Red List of endangered wildlife to portray in detail the possibly doomed species of the day.

The material will be posted on the IUCN website (www.iucn.org).

"We will start with some better known species before moving to cover plants, fungi, invertebrates, and more, including less charismatic ones," the inter-governmental body said.

The polar bear, whose fate as the arctic ice-shelf melts has been widely recognized, will have star billing on January 1.

Before December's U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, IUCN said inaction would put the future of some of the world's best-known creatures at risk.

These also included the emperor penguin, the arctic fox, clownfish which were popularized by the hit film "Finding Nemo," Australia's koala bear and almost every species of salmon, both marine and freshwater.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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