Monday, October 6, 2008

QUARTER OF WORLD'S MAMMALS THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION

ENN - A quarter of the world's mammals are threatened with extinction, an international survey showed on , and the destruction of habitats and hunting are the major causes.

The report, the most comprehensive to date by 1,700 researchers, showed populations of half of all 5,487 species of mammals were in decline. Mammals range in size from blue whales to Thailand's insect-sized bumblebee bat. . .

Of the 2008 total, 188 were listed as "critically endangered," the worst category before extinction, including the Iberian lynx of which there are just 84-143 adults left. Cuba's rat-like little earth hutia has not been seen in 40 years.

Habitat loss and hunting -- for everything from food to medicines -- "are by far the main threats to mammals," Schipper and his team wrote in the journal Science. "The population of one in two is declining," they said. . .

But the report, issued during an Oct 5-14 IUCN congress, was not all gloom. Five percent of species were recovering because of conservation efforts, including the European bison and the black-footed ferret, found in North America.

The African elephant was also moved down one notch of risk, to "near threatened" from "vulnerable," because of rising populations in southern and eastern Africa.

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