Many factors lead to the extinction of animal species. Everything from habitat destruction to direct exploitation have led to a period in time scientists are currently calling the sixth mass extinction event. The rate of average loss of vertebrate animals is 1,000 times greater than in ages past.
Now researchers have attempted to quantify the extent to which species are threatened by hunters — not the legal type, mind you, which can be controlled and managed — but the illegal kind, known as bushmeat hunters.
This largely cultural practice in parts of the developing world in Asia, Africa and South America pose a direct threat to 301 species of mammals, biologists reported in a recent study published by the Royal Society. Of the 301, researchers identified 126 primates, 26 bats, and 65 ungulates such as deer and wild pigs that could be saying bye-bye.
“The unrelenting decline of mammals suggests many vital ecological and socio-economic services that these species provide will be lost, potentially changing ecosystems irrevocably,” they write.
But there are solutions. In their paper, the team outlines five steps that can be taken such as increasing legal protections of threatened mammals, implement user rights such as hunting licenses in affected areas, provide alternative food sources, increase education and change international policy.
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