ONE IN 5 MAMMALS FACES EXTINCTION; Hunting and Logging Threaten Wildlife but the African Elephant Is a Rare Success

The Mirror (London, England), October 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

ONE IN 5 MAMMALS FACES EXTINCTION; Hunting and Logging Threaten Wildlife but the African Elephant Is a Rare Success


Byline: BY MIKE SWAIN SCIENCE EDITOR

A FIFTH of the world's mammals are being wiped out with hundreds likely to be extinct in our lifetime.

Half of the 5,487 species of mammals are declining and we face losing 1,147 completely, scientists have warned.

Hunting, harvesting, disease and the loss of their habitats from logging or oil exploration are the main causes.

Julia Marton-Lefevre, chief of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said: "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions."

Conservationists have been shocked by the IUCN's Red List which shows the extent of animal decline.

Andrew Smith, of Arizona State University: "It is frightening that after millions and millions of years of evolution that have given rise to the biodiversity of mammals we are perched on a crisis where 25 per cent of species are threatened with being lost forever." The first comprehensive list, compiled by 1,800 scientists from 25 countries, includes 41,415 species of which 16,306 are facing extinction - up from 16,118 last year.

One in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70 per cent of the world's plants are under threat. Corals, which have been hit by ocean acidification, climate change and over-fishing, are on the list for the first time.

But there are some rare success stories. The African elephant and black footed ferret are recovering.

The wild horse was extinct in the wild but now numbers 325 in Mongolia where it was re-introduced.

But there are 188 mammal species on the critically endangered list including the Iberian lynx, which numbers less than 150, and the western gorilla. It is being hunted to destruction for bushmeat and has fallen victim to the Ebola virus.

And 450 mammals are classed as endangered including the Caspian sea seal which has declined 90 per cent in 100 years.

Half of the world's monkey and ape species are fighting for survival - that figure rises to four fifths in South East Asia.

Dr Mark Wright, of the WWFUK, said: "Mammals are important because they play a key role in ecosystems and provide important benefits to humans. …

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