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Time's up as formula predicts extinctions

IT SEEMS rather grim: a mathematical formula to calculate the probability of animals becoming extinct.

But its Australian creators say that it will aid any decisions on where to target resources -- as well as help to recognise species so close to the brink that they are beyond help.

The 'Red List of Threatened Species', by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, already ranks plants and animals from safe to critically endangered.

But it does not distinguish between species at the top and bottom of a category, which is where the new index -- called 'Safe' (Species Ability to Forestall Extinction) -- comes in.

Devised by researchers from the University of Adelaide and James Cook University, in northern Queensland, 'Safe' can determine how close a population is to its minimum viable size. Professor Corey Bradshaw, director of ecological modelling at Adelaide's Environment Institute, called it "the best predictor yet of the vulnerability of mammal species to extinction".

Among the animals close to extinction are the tiger and the African wild dog. (© Independent News Service)

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