Global decline of mammals

Issue 

Global decline of mammals

By Roar Bjonnes

Siberian and Bengal tigers, and nearly one-fourth of the rest of the world's mammal species, are threatened with extinction.

A recent study of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) suggests that earlier estimates of the number of endangered species, known as the Red List, may have been too low. The latest update is a report of the most comprehensive evaluation of globally threatened animals ever compiled and the first to assess all known mammal species.

The number of mammals on the Red List is staggering — 1096 of the 4630 known species — and has spurred calls for an intensified international focus on biodiversity loss. The report also found that nearly one-third of all 275 primate species (monkeys, apes, lemurs) are at risk, almost three times the number of previous estimates.

Based on 35 years of data from more than 500 scientists worldwide, the report also concluded that the following species are endangered: 5205 vertebrates of all kinds, including 25% of amphibians, 20% of reptiles and 34% of fish.

According to George Rabb, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission that compiled the list, the report should serve as a "red flag", focusing attention on the most significant factor threatening the survival of species: the destruction of habitat brought about by human population growth and economic development. Other contributing factors are: pollution, over-harvesting and the introduction of foreign species.
[Reprinted with permission of People's News Agency, Platanvej 30, 1810 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, gtimes@cybernet.dk.]

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