8 incredible animals being hunted into extinction

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Lemur

credit: Ring-tailed lemur listed as IUCN endangered, victim of unsustainable levels of hunting. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Going, going ...

While we are busy adding another 3,500 human lives to the planet every 20 minutes, we are losing one or more entire species of animal or plant. At least 27,000 species per year are lost. At the present rates of extinction, we could be seeing an end to as many as 20 percent of the world's species in the next 30 years. This rate of extinction has been unprecedented since dinosaurs ended their reign 65 million years ago.

Although a major player in this tragedy is habitat destruction, illegal wildlife trade and trophy hunting take a heavy toll as well. Mythical health benefits, status and hanging a head on a wall are leading to the loss of some really incredible species that once gone, will never return. Among the many animals being hunted into extinction, the following are some that we'll miss the most.

1. Lemurs

Madagascar's 101 lemur species are "the most threatened mammal group on Earth," say the 19 authors of a study warning that 90 of the 101 known lemur species on the island nation, to which lemurs are endemic, are threatened with extinction. Twenty-two of those species are critically endangered. WIth the country's political crisis has come a wave of violent unrest and environmental crime, which has led to poaching of lemurs that are sold to restaurants as a luxury product.

Bristol Zoo Gardens primatologist Christoph Schwitzer says that any lemur disappearance could start "extinction cascades" in their habitats, "lemurs have important ecological and economic roles, and are essential to maintaining Madagascar's unique forests through seed dispersal and attracting income through ecotourism."

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