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SOURCE: Independent

DATE: May 14, 2019

SNIP: Illegal hunting is causing catastrophic declines in mammal populations living in the world’s remaining tropical forests, a new study has warned.

Jaguars, leopards, elephants and rhinos have seen population declines of 40 per cent in just 40 years and the study warned that hunting – half of which is done illegally – has left many tropical forests “empty” of wildlife.

Even the world’s most pristine jungles are having their ecosystems damaged as key species are wiped out by hunters looking to collect valuable horns and bones, an international team of researchers lead by the Radboud University in Holland, found.

Within the tropics, only 20 per cent of remaining habitats are considered intact.

The biggest declines were seen in Western Africa, with more than 70 per cent population reductions. Researchers found primates and pangolins were most at risk.

Declines have largely been caused by increased human accessibility to remote areas.

The decline of mammals may have profound implications for ecosystem functioning.