And a 2005 study by researchers at the Imperial College of London has suggested specific methods to help conserve large mammals. While small animals might benefit from habitat conservation, large mammals require a species-specific approach, targeting both the animal's biology and its habitat, the researchers say.
Large animals tend to reproduce at a relatively slow pace, which may have contributed to the extinction of mammoths and other big mammals during the Pleistocene/Holocene die-off from 50,000 to 10,000 years ago.
"I think the take-home message from the Pleistocene is that species are resilient but there can be a breaking point where a species cannot recover and when that point is reached, a complete collapse and loss can occur rapidly," said zoologist Alex Greenwood of Old Dominion University. "Dozens of species of large mammals were wiped out in a short time, so there is a danger that we could lose our large mammals in a similarly short period of time if we are not careful."
- Gallery: The World's Biggest Beasts
- MAIN STORY: The Perils of Being Huge: Why Large Creatures Go Extinct
- Gallery: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife