it is estimated that one of every four species of the world's vertebrates -- mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles -- face a sharp decline in numbers or possible extinction, says the World-watch Institute, Washington, usa . "We are in the midst of mass extinction, an event not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago," according to John Tuxill, the author of the study.
The main reason for the decline in vertebrates is the destruction of forests, wetlands, dense tangled underbrush and other rich habitats, including aquatic ecosystems. The report also blames over-hunting and over-fishing of the world's stock of animals and fish for the present crisis.
A study conducted by the World Conservation Union in 1996, had found that nearly 25 per cent of mammal and amphibian species, 11 per cent of birds, 20 per cent of reptiles and 34 per cent of the fish species, which were surveyed, were facing extinction.
In addition, five per cent to 14 per cent of the species in these groups were "nearing threatened status". Scientists now estimate that extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times greater than normal and are rising sharply.
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