25% of World's Mammals Face Extinction
A reevaluation of the Red List of Threatened Species, last assessed 10 years ago, has found that over half of all mammalian species' populations are falling and that at least 25% face the risk of extinction. The two major threats to mammalian populations are human expansion and hunting. Climate change also looms as a major threat, for once global temperatures rise many more species will undoubtedly be added to the danger list.
1800 scientists across 130 countries took part in the extensive study, which paints a stark future for the diversity of Earth's eco-systems and inhabitants as the environmental landscape becomes ever more volatile due to irresponsible human actions.
The biggest threat to mammals is loss of habitat, including deforestation.
This year's Red List looks at 5,487 mammals, and concludes that 1,141 are currently on the path towards disappearance.
This may be an under-estimate, the authors caution, as there is not enough data to make an assessment in more than 800 cases. The true figure could be nearer to one- third.
"Within our lifetime, hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," said Julia Marton-Lefevre, director-general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which publishes the Red List.
The authors of this report went further to warn against the world population against becoming distracted from the Earth's environmental crisis by financial issues that are plaguing countries worldwide.
"It's going to affect a few people, whereas the biodiversity crisis is going to affect the entire world. So there is a risk that because of the financial crisis, people are going to say 'yeah, the environment is not that urgent'; it is really urgent."
Asian primates face the greatest threat, as do other mammals in southern Asia as populations in this region grow rapidly.
The reducing number of mammals in Southeast Asia is being driven by illegal wildlife trade raising concern among global researchers.
"Curtail the trade of endangered species. It would do an amazing amount of good for stabilising the situation in South-east Asia, which is biodiversity hot spot," said Andrew Smith, one of the researchers from Arizona University.
Immediate conservation efforts are required in order to prevent, at least partially, the pending deterioration of many of Earth's species.