Scientists fear mass extinction has begun

October 27th, 2010 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 27 (IANS) One in five of the world’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are under threat of extinction, a study says.

The research found that the a growing number of vertebrates (animals with backbones) are being added to the endangered species list, with humans largely to blame.

One of the world’s leading ecologists, Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University, warned: “This is just a small window on the global losses taking place.”

The tiger, for example, is facing a threat from poachers and the destruction of its habitat. Scientists fear that a fifth of the world’s animals could soon be extinct

Many scientists believe the world is going through a ’sixth mass extinction’. The last of the five already seen in the Earth’s four-billion-year history wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, reports the Daily Mail.

The report comes as governments are taking part in UN talks in Nagoya, Japan, to tackle the global threat to wildlife, according to the journal Science.

It looked at the status of more than 25,000 species on the Red List, a database of threatened animals created by the respected International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Around 20 percent of the world’s vertebrates are threatened, including 25 percent of mammals, 13 percent of birds, 22 percent of reptiles and 41 percent of amphibians.

The scientists also found that 33 percent of cartilaginous fish - species such as shark - were threatened, along with 15 percent of bony fish.

The report also found that an average of 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians slide a step closer to extinction every year by moving into a more threatened category on the Red List.

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