Scientists predict ‘unprecedented scale’ of mammal extinctions in near future

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TORONTO – Scientists have examined the fossil record for the past 126,000 years and predict “unprecedented magnitude” of mammal extinctions in the near future. A new study from the American journal Science Advances looked at the impact of humans on past and present extinction of mammals. The researchers found that the size of the human population in many parts of the world “will undoubtedly pose a serious challenge for the future conservation of biodiversity”.

Researchers suggest that human activity is almost entirely responsible for mammalian extinctions in recent decades and will likely be the cause of at least 558 extinctions over the next century.

“By 2100, we expect all regions of the world will have entered a second wave of extinctions,” the study said. “We see that Australia and the Caribbean in particular have already entered the second wave of extinction today. […] we can already see these future scenarios manifesting in some parts of the world. ”

Despite the results, scientists say there is still a window of opportunity to prevent many species from becoming extinct by improving conservation efforts.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently has more than 120,000 species on its Red List of Threatened Species. There have been many conservation successes in recent years, with some species moving to less threatened IUCN categories.

The Ethiopian wolf and the Chinese giant pandas are two species that have benefited greatly from renewed conservation efforts and public awareness campaigns, according to the IUCN. In Ethiopia, conservationists have worked to preserve the existing wolf habitat, and in China, a number of large-scale initiatives have been implemented to protect the panda’s main food source, bamboo. . The number of pandas has since increased and the species has gone from threatened to vulnerable.

The researchers say they hope their alarming predictions “will foster a heightened awareness of the urgency and scale of conservation efforts needed to safeguard the future of mammalian diversity.”

According to IUCN, more than 32,000 people are currently at risk of extinction.

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