The extinction risk for different animal groups, evaluated by the IUCN

Nearly 30 per cent of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List are at risk of extinction, the global conservation body reported Saturday.

Habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal trade have hammered global wildlife populations for decades, and climate change is now kicking in as a direct threat, the head of the IUCN's Red List Unit told AFP in an interview.

While asked about the globe is on the cusp of the sixth mass extinction, Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN Red List unit, said the latest red list supports the suspicion.

“If we look at extinctions every 100 years since 1500, there is a marked inflection starting in the 1900s. The trend is showing that we are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the 'background', or normal, extinction rates,” he said.

“If the trends carry on going upward at that rate, we'll be facing a major crisis soon,” he added.

There are lots of species around the world would almost certainly have lost. The Red List process drew attention, for example, to the plight of the Arabian oryx and led to conservation efforts -- taking the animals out of the wild, captive breeding, reintroductions, Craig said.