Hungry humans are in danger of eating nearly a quarter of all endangered land mammals into extinction, according to a study published this week in Royal Society Open Science. Quartz reports that 301 species of land mammals—from bats and primates to rodents and big cats—are being hunted into extinction. And for the vast majority—285 species—the reason is food, not poaching or sport hunting. Some estimates claims more than a million metric tons of wild animal meat is collected in Africa every year. And approximately $200 million worth of wild animal meat is harvested yearly in the Brazilian Amazon, according to the Telegraph. “These species will continue to decline unless there is major global action to save them,” the study’s lead author, Bill Ripple, says.
The 285 species are found in poorer countries where protein is hard to find, with the most living in Madagascar, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Brazil. Researchers say tens of millions of people around the world rely on wild animals for meat. They lay out a series of solutions for what they call a “global crisis,” Phys.org reports. Those include creating more protected land for wild animals, providing legal rights for sustainable hunting, swapping high-protein plants like soy and tubers for wild animal meat, and increasing access to education and family planning. Fifteen leading conservation scientists have signed on to the study.