Jun 5

The Global Species Crisis: Mammals on the Brink of Extinction

This is a guest post on World Environment Day from Chris Rowson, Managing Director, Eco2Greetings.

For some animal species, time on planet Earth is running out. There have been five mass extinctions in the planet’s history, and animal populations so far suggests that we may have entered what will be the sixth great extinction wave. Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the idea of saving many of the world’s animals was first recognised, scientists have strived to save dwindling animal numbers. But, despite efforts the list of endangered species has more than doubled in the past two decades according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More than 23,000 plant and animal species are listed on the IUCN, including corals, birds, mammals and amphibians.

The IUCN accounts for all of the endangered species, classifying them on a spectrum that ranges from “near threatened” to “extinct”; with “endangered” species in the middle. Factors that are examined to determine level of extinction include a vulnerability analysis of a species’ habitat, an indication of a shrinking population, and observing issues that prevent reproduction.

As it stands, 3,406 mammal species are categorized as threatened. In 2015 the number stood at 1,201.  Extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago, and this is mainly because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes. As human beings we are responsible for being the biggest threat to endangered species. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to wildlife globally, affecting over 2,000 mammals.

Species loss threatens to reduce biodiversity and ultimately the collapse of ecosystems across the world. One of the biggest examples of this are endangered bees. The rusty patched bumblebee’s population has plummeted nearly 90% since the 1990’s in the United States. Bees play a vital role in pollination for agriculture, globally honey bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one-third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees.

For World Environment Day on 5th June, Eco2Greetings have used World Bank data to highlight where in the world mammals are most in need of protection and conservation. The map reveals the top 10 countries with the most threatened mammals: 

  1. Indonesia – 188

  2. Madagascar – 120

  3. Mexico – 96

  4. India – 92

  5. Brazil – 81

  6. China – 74

  7. Malaysia – 73

  8. Australia – 63

  9. Thailand – 56

  10. Vietnam – 55

Find the full interactive map here.

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