A fourth of mammals are at risk of extinction 1


The IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is currently meeting in Barcelona, Spain for ten days of discussions gathering thousands of experts and officials.

I already wrote on how biodiversity is largely threatened by our consumption and population increase. It seems that after primates, some mammals could also disappear.

IUCN’s most recent findings are particularly gloomy as to them nearly a third of all mammals could be facing extinction.

As the press release notes :

The new study to assess the world’s mammals shows at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction. At least 76 mammals have become extinct since 1500.

But the results also show conservation can bring species back from the brink of extinction, with five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery in the wild.

“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,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives.”

The real situation could be much worse as 836 mammals are listed as Data Deficient. With better information more species may well prove to be in danger of extinction.

“The reality is that the number of threatened mammals could be as high as 36 percent,” says Jan Schipper, of Conservation International and lead author in a forthcoming article in Science. “This indicates that conservation action backed by research is a clear priority for the future, not only to improve the data so that we can evaluate threats to these poorly known species, but to investigate means to recover threatened species and populations.”

The results show 188 mammals are in the highest threat category of Critically Endangered.

(…) Habitat loss and degradation affect 40 percent of the world’s mammals. It is most extreme in Central and South America, West, East and Central Africa, Madagascar, and in South and Southeast Asia.

Over harvesting is wiping out larger mammals, especially in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa and South America.

If this wasn’t enough, climate change is due to make matters much worse for many species, including the Emperor Penguin pictured right.

To learn out more on this topic, please check the IUCN report Species susceptibility to climate change impacts (pdf. document)


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