October 6, 2008

Report: 1 in 4 Mammals Face Extinction

One in four of the world's mammals are at risk of extinction, conservationists meeting in Spain direly warned Monday.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said a study suggests at least 1,141 of the planet's 5,487 mammals are known to be threatened with being wiped off the face of the Earth.

"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," the organization's director general, Julia Marton-Lefevre, said in a statement. "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."

The Iberian Lynx is one of 188 mammals listed on the group's Red List -- the highest category of critically endangered -- while 29 species are listed as possibly extinct.

The union said species can recover with concerted conservation efforts. The black-footed ferret moved from extinct in the wild to endangered after it was successfully reintroduced by U.S. wildlife officials and the wild horse moved from extinct in the wild to critically endangered after successful reintroductions in Mongolia.