Did you know there was a flower plant in Rwanda, which has never been found anywhere else?
Well, a decision taken by government to provide much-needed water for an agricultural project, caused an unintended consequence; the plant disappeared.
A new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows that the above plant called Nymphaea thermarum, is one of a vast amount of animals and plants that have gone extinct in the last two decades globally.
The world’s wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 68% in just over four decades, with human consumption behind the devastating decline, warns the report released Wednesday.
The Living Planet Report 2020 assessed the population declines seen in more than 4,392 monitored species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians between 1970 and 2016.
As for plants, an assessment of a sample of thousands of species representing the taxonomic and geographic breadth of global plant diversity showed that one in five (22%) are threatened with extinction, most of them in the tropics.
Plant extinction risk is said to be comparable to that of mammals and higher than for birds.
The Nymphaea thermarum, the world’s smallest waterlily, known only from the damp mud created by the overflow from a single hot spring in Rwanda, according to the report.
The bad news is that this plant became Extinct in the Wild in 2008 when the last known plant died at its only known location in Rwanda.
“The last plant desiccated and died when the stream feeding the hot spring was diverted for local agriculture,” says WWF.
The only remaining collection, says WWF, is being maintained at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: in the hope of a possible reintroduction if this fragile habitat can be restored.
The WWF warns that this biodiversity loss also threatens the world’s food security.
Experts say that while climate change is not yet the biggest cause of biodiversity loss, in the coming years, climate change will become a key driver of species decline unless world leaders take action.