15 fish species endemic to Lake Lanao now extinct

Fifteen freshwater fish species endemic to Lake Lanao are now extinct in the wild, while two species could also be possibly extinct, according to the latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


The extinct species of freshwater fish in Lake Lanao in the Red List are Barbodes amarus, Barbodes baoulan, Barbodes clemensi, Barbodes disa, Barbodes flavifuscus, Barbodes herrei, Barbodes katolo, Barbodes lanaoensis, Barbodes manalak, Barbodes pachycheilus, Barbodes palaemophagus, Barbodes palata, Barbodes resimus, Barbodes tras, and Barbodes truncatalus.

Those that are possibly extinct or critically endangered are Barbodes lindog and Barbodes sirang. The IUCN said confirmation is required, such as through more extensive surveys, to determine if they are in all probability already extinct.

The IUCN attributed the extinction of the Lake Lanao endemic fish species to the introduction of predatory species, compounded by overharvesting and destructive fishing methods.

Lanao Lake, which has a surface area of about 36,000 hectares, is located in Lanao del Sur, and was proclaimed a watershed reserve by virtue of Proclamation No. 871 on February 26, 1992.

It is the largest lake in Mindanao, the second largest in the Philippines, and is considered as one of the 15 ancient lakes in the world.

Scientists believe that it was formed millions of years ago as a result of volcanic activites and tectonic movements.

The latest IUCN report also revealed the extinction of three Central American frog species, in addition to 22 frog species across Central and South America that were listed as critically endangered or possibly extinct.

The lost shark or Carcharhinus obsoletus, which was only formally described last year, also entered the Red List as critically endangered or possibly extinct.

In a statement, IUCN Director General Dr. Bruno Oberle said "the growing list of extinct species is a stark reminder that conservation efforts must urgently expand."

"To tackle global threats such as unsustainable fisheries, land clearing for agriculture, and invasive species, conservation needs to happen around the world and be incorporated into all sectors of the economy," Oberle stressed.

Dr. Andrew Terry, Director of Conservation and Policy at the Zoological Society of London, also pointed out that "seeing so many species joining the extinct category, many of which have only just been discovered, is heart-breaking."

"The Red List is a vital tool that helps us understand the pressures facing the diversity of life and therefore the conservation responses needed. A healthy natural world is vital to our wellbeing -- we now need to see a clear focus placed on the recovery of species and the maintenance of diversity within the new Global Biodiversity Framework," Terry added.