World forests are home to a large number of the world's plant and animal species, including many endangered species. They are the habitat for about two-thirds of terrestrial species. As forests are cut down, many species are doomed to extinction. Some rainforest species can only survive in their natural habitat.

Tropical rainforests support the greatest diversity of living organisms on Earth. Although they cover less than 2% of Earth's surface, rainforests house more than 50% of plants and animals on Earth. Here are some examples of the richness of rainforests:
- rainforests have 170,000 of the world's 250,000 known plant species
- the United States has 81 species of frogs, while Madagascar which is smaller than Texas, may have 300 species.
- Europe has 321 butterfly species, while a park in the rainforest of Peru, Manu National Park, has 1300 species.

According to the IUCN there are now almost 45,000 species considered at risk of extinction. Our closest relatives in the animal world: chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, are destined to become extinct within the next few decades if we continue to destroy the forests that host them. Every day, 50 to 130 species become extinct. We are facing the most dramatic wave of extinctions since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.  An ecological disaster is happening at an unprecendented rate; previous crisis played out over millions of years, and in the presence of natural disasters.

 

On July 4, Hong Kong customs officials seized about 7.2 metric tons of ivory tusks in what they estimate to be the world’s largest seizure of ivory tusks over the past 30 years. The ivory is estimated to be worth around HK$72 million (~$9.2 million).

At the eve of the Earth Day, WWF published a new report highlighting that nearly 30% of Unesco World Heritage sites are threatened by illegal exploitation, and urges for additional and immediate measures to halt the worrying trend in illegal trafficking for international trade of CITES-listed species in the world’s most ecologically important places.

Roads and railways are seen as the the way of progress. But they can also bring extinctions. According to the WWF, for example, in Asia the tiger is not only threatened by poachers, but also by massive infrastructure plans throughout  the tiger landscapes that are putting at risk the recent gains in tiger conservation.

China will close down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, signalling an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa. The General Office of the State Council of China announced that China will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017”.

Nearly half of Earth's remaining mountain gorillas – only around 400 animals – live deeply secluded in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park. But now, tea planters want to clear-cut an adjoining buffer zone, Kafuga Pocket Forest Reserve. The destruction of the forest would push the critically endangered gorillas one step closer to extinction.

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