Some of the world’s biggest animals are at risk of extinction because of the unquenchable thirst humans have for meat.
A study found at least 200 of Earth’s largest creatures are decreasing dramatically and more than 150 face being killed off completely, according to scientists.
Of these large animals, known as megafauna, 70 per cent are in decline and 59 per cent are at risk of disappearing from the globe.
Corresponding author Professor William Ripple, of Oregon State University College of Forestry in the US, said: ‘Our results suggest we’re in the process of eating megafauna to extinction.’
Nine megafauna species have either gone extinct overall – or in the wild – in the past 250 years.
These include two species of giant tortoise – one of which disappeared in 2012 – and two of deer.
Among those now threatened is the Chinese giant salamander, an Asian delicacy and anatomical marvel that can grow up to six feet long and is one of only three living species in an amphibian family that can be traced back 170 million years.
This animal is now under siege by hunting, development and pollution and experts predict it to become extinct in the wild imminently.
Professor Ripple said: ‘Preserving the remaining megafauna is going to be difficult and complicated.
‘There will be economic arguments against it – as well as cultural and social obstacles.