A host of giant river animals are on the brink of extinction, according to a new report.
The study titled The global decline of freshwater megafauna, published in Global Change Biology, is the first comprehensive study of its kind.
It says populations of great freshwater species have plummeted by 97 percent since 1970 – with humans largely blamed for killing the animals for meat, eggs, and skin.
On the decline
According to researchers, freshwater species are declining more quickly than those on land or in saltwater. Species including the Yangtze dolphin are already extinct, with others on the brink, including the Chinese giant softshell turtles – only three exist, and all are male.
But while freshwater ecosystems are among the most diverse and dynamic ecosystems on Earth, they ‘remain underrepresented in biodiversity research and conservation efforts’.
The University of Nevada’s Zeb Hogan, who was part of the research team, told The Guardian: “The results are a wake-up call to us about the plight of these species. Many of them are at risk of extinction, and almost all of them need our help. It’s a race now to see what can be understood and protected before it’s too late.”