According a report to be published on Friday in the journal Science, researchers have discovered startling odds on the chances of survival for the world's mammals: 1-in-4. Yikes. Um, aren't humans mammals too. . . ?
The researchers say of the findings, ''We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining." Did you catch that one? Fifty percent are declining, and the scientists aren't letting us off the hook: ''Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live. We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives.''
To see which mammals are threatened most, read more.
The study was done by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, made up of over 1,000 organizations. This particular study involved 1,700 scientists and spanned five years. With the report, was a "red list," containing 44,838 species in total, 16,928 of which are threatened with extinction. Larger mammals are more threatened than smaller ones as they have a lower population density and require more habitat — the exact ecosystems the researchers point — with problems ranging from deforestation to climate change.
There's a tiny silver lining: five percent of currently threatened mammals are showing signs of recovery. Given controversial plans to move species to save them, and scientists predicting that humans themselves need to prepare for extinction, is this study just another environmental scare that can be explained by the cycle of life? Or are we looking at being faced with the choice: bunny, pony, kitten, puppy — which one are you willing to write off?