Largest And Smallest Of The World's Animals Are Threatened With Extinction

A new research reveals that the largest and the smallest of the world's animals are most at risk of dying out. Scientists urged for immediate action to protect these largest and small creatures from extinction.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, Sept.19. It was led by Prof. Bill Ripple of Oregon State University in Corvallis, U.S. and other colleagues.

The scientists investigated and studied more than 27,000 vertebrate species centered on their body mass. The results showed 17 percent are highly threatened with extinction. As evaluated by the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, around 4,000 of them face extinction. The animals that were examined include reptiles, birds, amphibians, bony fishes, mammals, cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and rays, according to Science Daily.

Prof. Ripple said that the biggest vertebrates are the ones susceptible by direct killing by humans. Meanwhile, the smallest creatures are more likely to have delimited geographic ranges and could be threatened by habitat degradation.

The largest animals are in danger chiefly because of hunting. One example of this is the killing of elephants due to their ivory. Rhinos and lions have also been subjected to chasing by humans. They are now being protected by the conservationists and governments.

Protesters urged illegal ivory traders to end direct killing of elephants.
Elephants are hunted for illegal ivory trade. [Image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

On the other hand, some other largest creatures such as the Chinese giant salamander, Somali ostrich, Komodo dragon and the whale shark, are somehow unnoticed and overlooked. They must also be given attention as some of these animals are also vulnerable to destruction.

Dead fishes are spotted in aquaculture farm in Taiwan.
Japanese eels are in danger of extinction because of the warming of the water temperature. [Image by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images]

Prof. Ripple also said that the very tiniest ones are also endangered. These animals are not only threatened by their habitat degradation, but also by pollution, logging, farming, and development, according to BBC.

The researchers think that both species whether large or small need efforts for conservation. Thomas Newsome, a co-researcher from the University of Sydney in Australia, said that the key for protecting the large animals is by lessening the negative impacts of fishing, hunting, and trapping. He further said that eventually slowing the human population growth rate could be a long-term factor in limiting extinction risks to many creatures.

[Featured Image by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images]