Incessant disappearance of species on Earth could lead to the sixth mass extinction within 100 years, reveals a new study.
The study found that 41 percent of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction, the highest at risk group. A more modest, but still alarming, 26 percent of mammal species and 13 percent of bird species are also threatened, the Independent reported.
Habitat loss and degradation, as well as specific human activity such as hunting pose a significant hazard to wildlife sustainability and these pressures are only increasing. Similarly, it was thought that climate change will accelerate the rate of extinctions in the future.
Current estimates assumed that the rate of extinction was anything from 0.01 percent to 0.7 percent of all existing species each year. If this were to continue it would constitute a mass extinction, defined as a loss of 75 percent of species, in the next few hundred years.
It's not a new trend. Over the past 3.5 billion years more than 95 percent of all species that have populated the earth have died off.
The most recent Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, counts around 46,000 critically endangered species, but it was thought that more species could be at risk.
A major problem in trying to assess the risk to species was the lack of knowledge about how many types of animals there are on the planet. Estimates of the number of species of animals, plants and fungi on earth vary from 2 million to more than 50 million. And very little has been known about certain groups such as insects and fish.
The study is published in journal Nature.