Red List – Modern Australia – destruction of species

ABC news item: Quarter of world’s mammals facing extinction

By Stephanie Kennedy

ABC radio

A survey by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has found that a quarter of the world’s mammals are at risk of extinction.

The Red List of Threatened Species is published in the journal Science and it says populations of more than half of world’s mammals are falling, with Asian primates particularly at risk.

The updated ‘Red List’ was released at the World Conservation Congress in Spain, with Australia ranking poorly.

The biggest threat to mammals is loss of habitat, including deforestation.

788 species in Australia have been listed as threatened, including fish, birds and plants.

Of that number, 57 of the country’s native mammals are at risk of extinction.

Zoologist from the University of Adelaide Professor Chris West says Australia’s ranking in the Red List is one of the worst for developed countries

“I’m afraid what it does is point up the fact that Australia has a poor record so far,” he said.

Professor West says habitat destruction, conversion to farmland and pollution are root causes and climate change is also a threat.

One of the mammals at serious risk is the Tasmanian devil.

Its population, has declined by 60 per cent in 10 years, due to viral face cancer.

It is now listed as endangered, and its prospects as a species are extremely bleak.

But there is good news for the African elephant, increased numbers have led to its removal from the high-risk list.

The Red List is compiled every four years by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.