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Humans ‘eating megafauna to extinction’ - study
Researchers said minimising the direct killing of megafauna must be a priority.
Research explores impact of human activity on largest vertebrates 

New research suggests the biggest threat facing the world’s largest vertebrates, or megafauna, is being killed for human consumption of meat or body parts.

A study led by researchers from Oregon State University found 70 per cent of megafauna species are declining, while 59 per cent are threatened with extinction. Direct harvesting for meat and body parts poses a threat to 98 per cent of these species.

Researchers looked at the impact of human activities on six classes of megafauna: mammals, ray-finned fish, cartilaginous fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles.

Writing in the journal Conservation Letters, they said: ‘Our results suggest that we are in the process of eating the world’s megafauna to extinction’.

Species are hunted for meat for human consumption or body parts to be used as trophies or in Asian traditional medicine. Other species may be targeted for feathers, leather or egg collection.

Unintentional killing is also a cause of much mortality, as animals are caught as bycatch in gill net, trawls or longlines in aquatic systems.

On average, megafauna are 2.75 times more likely to be threatened with extinction than other vertebrate species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In other words, seven out of 10 megafauna species will suffer further population declines in the near future, while three in five could go extinct.

Nine species became extinct between the 1760s and 2012 as a result of excessive hunting, or a combination of hunting and habitat degradation.

Researchers said minimising the direct killing of megafauna must be a priority. They recommended informing the public through educational campaigns and celebrity input to reduce demand, alongside legislation to limit collection and trade. A large group of nations must take urgent and coordinated action, they added.


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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”