Disease Management in Endangered Mammals
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One quarter of all mammal species are considered threatened with extinction (IUCN 2007). The rate of loss of biodiversity is accelerating because increasing pressure from an expanding human population is shrinking natural habitat and over-exploiting wild animal populations. Although processes such as habitat loss and over-harvesting are usually identified as the major drivers of extinction, recent evidence suggests that disease can also be a significant threat to endangered species (Lyles and Dobson 1993; Daszak and Cunningham 1999; Daszak et al. 2000b; de Castro and Bolker 2004; Choisy and Rohani 2006; Lips et al. 2006; Smith et al. 2006). Disease has already been documented as a cause of extinction of a land snail (Partula turgida) (Cunningham and Dazsak 1998), and several amphibian species (Schloegel et al. 2006; Skerrat et al. 2007). Diseases are also known to cause significant population declines, as illustrated by the impact of canine distemper virus in black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) (Williams et al. 1988) and lions (Panthera leo) (Roelke-Parker et al. 1996), rabies virus in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) (Woodroffe and Ginsberg 1999), Ebola virus in apes (Leroy et al. 2004), squirrelpox virus in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) (Rushton et al. 2006) and transmissible facial tumour disease in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) (Pearse and Swift 2006).