Monitoring biodiversity loss
In order to set conservation goals and design plans for sustainable resource management Governments, NGOs and scientific institutions must be aware of the extinction risk of plant and animal species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is widely recognized as the most comprehensive and objective global approach to evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. This organisation now plays a vital role in guiding and advising on the conservation activities of governments, NGOs and researchers.
The IUCN Red List aims to "... provide information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species in order to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation."
According to a global assessment of the conservation status of the world's mammals nearly one quarter of the world's mammals are threatened. The major taxonomic group (or Order) thta has the most species with a higher than average level of threat is the Primates. Of the 414 known species, 49 % are considered threatened (here the term "threatened" refers to species that fall into the Red List categories of Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered (see IUCN Red List website for descriptions of the threat statuses and the assessment process and much more).
Habitat loss is by far the most significant threat to mammals (over 2,000 species negatively impacted). The second most significant threat is utilization, such as trade, particularly in Asia. Fires and invasive species are also significant contribuers.