21 percent of African freshwater plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, according to a five year assessment of 5,167 freshwater species by 200 scientists.
The IUCN study cites pollution, invasive species, increased water diversion for agriculture, and dams as the chief threats to aquatic biodiversity.
“Freshwaters provide a home for a disproportionate level of the world’s biodiversity. Although they cover just one per cent of the planet’s surface, freshwater ecosystems are actually home to around seven per cent of all species,” said Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Species Program, in a statement. “This latest IUCN Red List assessment clearly shows that lakes, rivers and wetlands haven’t escaped the grasp of the current extinction crisis.”
The assessment includes all known freshwater fish, mollusks, crabs, dragonflies and damselflies, and selected families of aquatic plants. Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest lake, was one of the most endangered with 45 percent of its 191 native fish species threatened or thought to be extinct.
The report is available in sub-sections here.