The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a dire report last week concluding that about a quarter of the world"s mammal species are heading for extinction. Another quarter, says the group, face less drastic but nevertheless declining population numbers. The international nonprofit, which produces and maintains the worldwide "red list" of endangered species, says that the situation is particularly serious for land mammals in south and southeast Asia, where some 79% of monkeys and apes face extinction, due to the one-two punch of overharvesting and habitat loss. And marine species around the world are suffering from "our increasingly intensive use of the oceans."
"More than simply reporting on the depressing status of the world’s mammals, these
data can and should be used to inform strategies for addressing this crisis, for example to identify priority species and areas for conservation," the researchers concluded. “Despite a general deterioration in the status of mammals, our data also show that species recoveries are possible through targeted conservation efforts.”
"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children?,” said Arizona State University life sciences professor Andrew Smith, one of researchers who contributed to the report which culled data from some 1,700 experts across 130 countries. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world’s mammals."