At Least a Quarter of World’s Mammals Face Extinction

This year’s report by the IUCN suggests that in excess of 25% of the world’s mammals could become extinct by the turn of the century. The number probably exceeds a quarter given that over 800 species status have not been assessed due to lack of data.

The findings were unveiled at this year’s IUCN conference in Barcelona, attended by the British Ecological Society’s executive director.

Jan Schipper, the director of the global mammals assessment said:

“We’re looking at a 25% decline over the long term, yet for mammals there is no bail out plan. There is no long term conservation strategy that is going to prevent species extinction in the future. As human beings, we should be ensuring that we don’t cause other species to go extinct.”

Globally, the future is more bleak in some areas than others. The most biologically diverse regions in the world tend to be in the tropics, often where habitat destruction is rife. In south and south-east Asia 79 per cent of apes and monkeys face extinction.

Some of the most newly discovered species are among the most threatened, with 51 per cent of the 349 new species recorded in the last 16 years being classed as critically endangered.

Conservation effort has reversed the fortunes of some endangered species, through captive and in situ breeding and reintroduction programmes. Having suffered catastrophic population decline, the southern white rhino has recovered exceptionally well. With government will power and sufficient public interest and support, it is yet possible to halt many species declines and prevent extinctions occurring. It is imperative that efforts persist in combating climate change too, as this potentially is the biggest threat to species globally.