One-sixth of European mammals facing extinction , says IUCN

Published: Saturday 30 June 2007

-- (Credit: SHYAMAL)Down to Earth The first assessment of European mammals by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (iucn) says one-sixth of them are facing the threat of extinction

Down to Earth Another 9 per cent of the 231 mammals in Europe, also under threat, will soon enter the threatened category of iucn's Red List of endangered species

Down to Earth Population of 27 per cent of the mammals in the region is declining, just 8 per cent of them are growing in number

Down to Earth Marine mammals are threatened more than the terrestrial ones -- 22 per cent of 27 species. Only 14 per cent of the 204 terrestrial mammals are threatened--with 1.5 per cent listed critically endangered. 7.4 per cent of the marine mammals are listed critically endangered, 7.4 per cent endangered and another 7.4 per cent vulnerable--this rate could be higher since over 44 per cent of the marine mammals were not assessed due to lack of data

Down to Earth Terrestrial mammals are threatened more at eu 25 level--the group comprising member nations in the European Union in 2005. About 2.5 per cent of the total mammals are also critically endangered at this level

Down to Earth Grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is extinct in the region due to hunting. It now exists only in the North Pacific and adjacent waters. Two terrestrial mammals, the aurochs (Bos primigenius)--ancestor of domestic cattle--and the Sardinian pika (Prolagus sardus) have become globally extinct since 1,500

Down to Earth Main threats to marine mammals include accidental mortality, pollution and over exploitation. Habitat loss and degradation affect terrestrial mammals-- affecting 94 species in total and 27 of the 29 in the threatened category

Down to Earth Terrestrial mammal biodiversity is higher in south-eastern Europe--the Balkan Peninsula, Hungary, and Romania--than the north. Higher species richness is also marked in the open Atlantic ocean than in the enclosed Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas

Down to Earth France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Greece have high rates of species richness. Mediterranean Europe, including the Cantabrian mountains, Pyrenees, Massif Central, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, and the mountains of the Balkan peninsula also have high rates of species richness. These regions house large number of terrestrial endemic species, but no endemic marine species

Down to Earth Many threatened terrestrial mammals are found in the Balkan Peninsula, especially in Bulgaria, and also in Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia, Iberia, the Pyrenees and the Apennines. Many threatened marine mammals are found in the Atlantic ocean

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