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Humans are killing off most large wild animals as sixth mass extinction advances

The Guardian reports:

Humanity’s ongoing destruction of wildlife will lead to a shrinking of nature, with the average body size of animals falling by a quarter, a study predicts.

The researchers estimate that more than 1,000 larger species of mammals and birds will go extinct in the next century, from rhinos to eagles. They say this could lead to the collapse of ecosystems that humans rely on for food and clean water.

Humans have wiped out most large creatures from all inhabited continents apart from Africa over the last 125,000 years. This annihilation will accelerate rapidly in the coming years, according to the research.

The future extinctions can be avoided if radical action is taken to protect wildlife and restore habitats, and the scientists say the new work can help focus efforts on key species.

Animal populations have fallen by 60% since 1970, suggesting a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is under way caused by the razing of wild areas, hunting and intensive farming. Scientists said this month that human society was in danger from the decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, with half of natural ecosystems now destroyed and a total of a million species at risk of extinction. [Continue reading…]

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