The report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the world's wild mammals, and is the result of a five-year effort including data collected by more than 1,700 experts in 130 countries. It presents overwhelming evidence of an extinction crisis, with almost one in four mammal species at risk of disappearing forever.
Dr. Burton, Chair of the IUCN Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group, warns: "Declining mammal populations are just one tragic symptom of the increasing pressures on habitats and natural resources. In this challenging economic climate, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the benefits and services that ecosystems provide - carbon sequestration, provision of fresh water and resources, as well as aesthetic and cultural values to name but a few."
Dr. Burton assessed and reviewed the status of Asian wild cattle and buffalo for the report. He says, "This assessment highlights the scale of the problem facing many mammal species. The decline we have seen in wild cattle and buffalo applies across all mammals in South-East Asia."
He continues, "These declines can be largely attributed to habitat loss and degradation. The report highlights that the threats to mammals are increasing globally and land mammals in South East Asia and all marine ecosystems give us greatest cause for concern. Urgent action is needed if we are to avoid extinctions in the near future."
Dr. Burton remains hopeful that it is not too late to act. While the results of the study indicate that at least 1,141 of the 5,487 mammals assessed are threatened with extinction, they also show that targeted conservation efforts can bring species back from the brink. According to the report, five per cent of currently threatened mammals show signs of recovery in the wild.
Environmental organisations such as Earthwatch offer ordinary people the opportunity to help conserve threatened species worldwide. "Volunteers help to speed up the collection of data that inform environmental management decisions, whilst also learning in a very practical way about the complexities of natural ecosystems. They are invaluable," says Dr. Burton.
For the full report from Science
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Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is an international environmental organisation whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is the European affiliate of Earthwatch Institute, which is based in the USA and founded in Boston in 1971. Other affiliate offices in the Earthwatch Institute network are based in Australia and Japan.
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IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.
The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
About the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Species Programme
The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN's six volunteer commissions with a global membership of 7,000 experts. SSC advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and scientific aspects of species conservation and is dedicated to securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation. Web: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/index.cfm
The IUCN Species Programme supports the activities of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and individual Specialist Groups, as well as implementing global species conservation initiatives. It is an integral part of the IUCN Secretariat and is managed from IUCN's international headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. The Species Programme includes a number of technical units covering Species Trade and Use, the Red List Unit, Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments Unit, (all located in Cambridge, UK), and the Global Biodiversity Assessment Unit (located in Washington DC, USA).
An international team of scientists, including Dr. James Burton of Earthwatch, published an analysis of the latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species