The continuing challenge for the world's agricultural, biological and conservation scientists is threefold: to catalogue existing biological diversity, to slow the rate of loss of biological diversity and to feed the ever-increasing human population. The World Bank has estimated that currently 500 million people in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America suffer from chronic under-nourishment. While IUCN - The World Conservation Union and WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature estimate that “the current extinction rate is now approaching 1,000 times the background rate and may climb to 10,000 times the background rate during the next century, if present trends continue [resulting in] a loss that would easily equal those of past extinctions.” - nearly one in four of the world's total species may become extinct by the middle of the this century. Specifically, the threat of extinction faces:
1 out of 8 birds,
1 out of 4 mammals,
1 out of 4 conifers,
1 out of 3 amphibians,
6 out of 7 marine turtles,
75% of genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost,
75% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over exploited,
Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C,
1/3rd of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction, and
Over 350 million people suffer from severe water scarcity.
The economic, political and social consequences of the steady loss of species combined with rapid population growth are likely to be catastrophic if left unchecked. Whereas the potential benefits that can result from conserving and exploiting the world's biodiversity sustainably are potentially limitless, especially with new found scientific expertise combining breeding and biotechnology. There is, therefore an urgent requirement for biologists to understand the degree of the threat facing humankind and how we as scientists might better conserve the world's fauna and flora, and make it available for sustainable exploitation so underpinning food security and human well-being. The Conservation Biology course attempt to meet this requirement.
Lectures, seminars, student presentations, case studies .