September 15, 2009

One In Six Mediterranean Mammals Threatened By Extinction

One in six Mediterranean mammals are under threat from extinction on a regional level, according to a new report issued Tuesday.

The IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species report gathered information from 320 mammals in the Mediterranean region, apart from dolphins and whales. The report marks the first time all Mediterranean animals have been included in the report.

The study found that the three percent of the mammals analyzed are "critically endangered," while five percent are "endangered" and eight percent are "vulnerable."

Additionally, the assessment found that eight percent of the mammals are "near threatened," while three percent are "fully extinct" or "regionally extinct."

"The number one threat is habitat destruction, which affects 90 percent of the threatened species," said Annabelle Cuttelod, who co-authored the report.

"We need international action to protect key areas and preserve natural habitats to ensure we don't lose the rich biodiversity in this area."

The study found that rodents, bats, shrews, hedgehogs and moles are having a tougher time surviving, as their habitats are being dwindled by agriculture, pollution, climate change and urbanization.

Additionally, herbivores like deer, carnivores, rabbits and hares are in particular danger as eight species from these groups have already gone extinct, said the IUCN.

What's more, 20 of the 49 threatened mammal species are found in the Mediterranean region and nowhere else.

"Agriculture affects 65 percent of threatened mammals, hunting and trapping 60 percent, and invasive species 50 percent," according to the report.

"We need to encourage people to accept large predators, improve protected areas management and better enforce laws regarding hunting practices," said Helen Temple, co-author of the study.


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