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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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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.