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The sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth is rapidly accelerating, according to a study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on Monday.

The study shows that over 500 species are on the verge of extinction due to pollution, habitat loss, wildlife trade, and the use of toxic substances. 

Using data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and BirdLife International, scientists identified approximately 515 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians with populations under 1,000. 

These species are all disappearing at 100 times faster than the average rate, the study found.

The animals facing extinction currently span every continent on the planet, except for Antarctica, and include the golden lion tamarin, the Ethiopian wolf, the Javan rhinoceros, and the Spanish imperial eagle.

“Based on our research and what we're seeing, the extinction crisis is so bad that whatever we do in the next 10 to 50 years is what will define the future of humanity,” Professor Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who worked on the study, told the BBC.

The study describes the extinction crisis as an existential threat to civilization and claims that scientists have a “moral imperative” to bring awareness to the loss of biodiversity all over the world.

Scientists also warned that this upcoming mass extinction could have a domino effect on other wildlife species and even on humans, who rely heavily on biodiversity for its health and well-being.

The earth has previously experienced five mass extinctions throughout history. While the planet was able to bounce back each time, it took millions of years to restore the number of wildlife species that went extinct. 

Although the window is closing, the scientists behind the study argue that there is still time to prevent the sixth extinction from occurring by conserving these 515 endangered species.

“We are facing our final opportunity to ensure that the many services nature provides us do not get irretrievably sabotaged,” Ceballos said.


Defend the Planet

The Threat of a 'Sixth Mass Extinction' Is Accelerating, Study Finds

By Catherine Caruso  and  Adam Critchley