The British mammals facing total wipe out

A matter of wildlife and death: These are four of the species at risk of dying out in the UK.

How can we save our mammals? From bats to rats, a dozen British species face extinction, according to new research. Unsurprisingly, many of the causes have to do with humans.

What’s happening

Hedgehogs, wildcats and beavers are among the UK’s threatened species, according to a new report. Of the country’s 58 land mammals, 12 have been put on the “red list”, which means that they face extinction within 10 years. Other species (like deer) are growing, as humans have stopped hunting them.

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This is the biggest study of the UK’s mammals in 20 years. Things have changed a lot in that time: hedgehog and water vole populations have declined by almost 70%. We now know of only one male greater mouse-eared bat in the country.

The report blames factors such as climate change, pesticides and invasive species. Most importantly, we are destroying habitats by farming, and building things like homes and roads.

Mammals are not the only animals in trouble. Recent research shows that many of the UK’s birds and insects are also disappearing. These issues are linked, as food chains often depend on insects.

“We have almost been sleepwalking,” says Dr Fiona Mathews, one of the report’s authors. She is calling for immediate action. What can be done?

Some say…

The government has to step in. Currently, it pays farmers to produce lots of food and own large amounts of land. This kind of intensive farming is the biggest cause of shrinking animal populations. Farmers should be rewarded for being environmentally friendly, not the opposite. Luckily, politicians are considering plans to do exactly this!

Others think…

The UK is our country, and we are all responsible. As Dr Mathews says, we have been ignoring this problem. People love to protest about political issues, but where are all the marches for mammals? The thing is that we mostly live in cities, and we are not aware that animals are vanishing. We should start by paying more attention to our wildlife.

You Decide

  1. Is it always sad when a species becomes extinct?

Activities

  1. Design a poster to raise awareness of threatened mammals. Include some facts.

Some People Say...

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.”

Stewart Udall

What do you think?

Word Watch

Pesticides
Chemicals used to kill things (like insects) that harm plants.
Invasive species
A species, originally from another region, that harms other species. For example, grey squirrels came to the UK from the US, bringing diseases that killed red squirrels.
Food chains
A series of living things, each of which is eaten by the next. For example, grass is eaten by voles, which are eaten by owls.
Intensive farming
A type of farming aimed at producing as much food as possible.

Subjects

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