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National Geographic, in conjunction with Ipsos, polled 12,000 adults in 12 countries around the world to understand how people in these places value nature and biodiversity.
Though people across the globe generally support conservation and saving wildlife, the survey results also revealed a limited understanding about topics such as extinction, in part due to lack of education.
No trace of the wild South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis (critically endangered, possibly extinct in the wild), has been seen for more than a decade. Zoos hold fewer than 200 in breeding programs. If a Chinese plan to return some to the wild fails, they could become the fourth subspecies of tiger to go extinct.
Suzhou South China Tiger Breeding Base
A striking majority of respondents weren’t sure how much vertebrate populations have changed since 1970 (decreased by about 60 percent). They were also shocked to learn that a quarter of the world’s mammals could soon go the way of the dodo.
Even with such knowledge gaps, however, one crucial takeaway from the poll is that regardless of political or cultural backgrounds very few people think extinction is acceptable.
Many scientists project that we are on the brink of a modern-day mass extinction, the last of which occurred some 66 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaur population in part by asteroid impact. Dozens of species go extinct every day and scientists predict that more than 20,000 plants and animals are on the verge of disappearing forever. Today’s results are released in conjunction with the October issue of National Geographic magazine, which highlights species that are among the world’s most vulnerable, at risk of vanishing within our lifetimes.
The October issue, which seeks to fill the gap in education about the extinction crisis around the world, is available online now at natgeo.com/vanishing.
To give readers an opportunity to help, National Geographic Society is asking for consumers to take the #SaveTogether pledge at NatGeo.org/SaveTogether. For each pledge made, National Geographic Society will donate to fund more exploration, research, and conservation.
Anna Kukelhaus Dynan, Anna.Kukelhaus@natgeo.com, 202-912-6724
Kelsey Taylor, Kelsey.Taylor@natgeo.com, 202-912-6776