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Researchers document world's mammals in crisis
Date:10/6/2008

0 mammals have been listed as "endangered," including the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), after its global population declined by more than 60 percent in the last 10 years due to a fatal infectious facial cancer. The Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), found in Southeast Asia, was listed as endangered due to habitat loss in wetlands. Similarly, status of the Caspian Seal (Pusa caspica) was moved to endangered. Its population has declined by 90 percent in the last 100 years due to unsustainable hunting and habitat degradation.

Habitat loss and degradation affect 40 percent of the world's mammals. It is most extreme in Central and South America, west, east and central Africa, Madagascar, and in south and Southeast Asia. Over harvesting is wiping out larger mammals, especially in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa and South America.

The Grey-faced Sengi or Elephant-shrew (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis) is only known from two forests in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, both of which are protected but vulnerable to fires. The species was first described this year and has been placed in the vulnerable category.

In order to improve the current state of these mammals, Smith suggests a few actions that could help immediately.

"Curtail the trade of endangered species," he said. "It would do an amazing amount of good for stabilizing the situation in Southeast Asia, which is a biodiversity hot spot. There also is so much needless habitat loss. Trees from too many lush tropical forests end up as coffee tables or in high-end furniture."

Conservation's role

"Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," the authors of the Science article state. "Yet, more than simply reporting on the depressing status of the world's mammals, these Red List data can and should be used to inform strategies for addressing this crisis, for example, to identify priority species and
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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