Italy is a southern European country made up of an area of 116,306 square miles. This area consists of several habitats, including mountains, coastlines, forests, and freshwater. Because of its wide range of environmental regions, this country is also home to a wide variety of wildlife. In fact, Italy is home to over 57,000 animal species, which represents over one-third of the animals found in Europe. Unfortunately, many of its plants and animals are threatened or endangered. This article takes a look at the most threatened mammals in Italy.
The Most Threatened Mammals in Italy
Marsican Brown Bear
The Marsican brown bear, also known as the Apennine brown bear, can be found in a few national parks, including Abruzzo, Molise, and Lazio. The males weigh as much as 440 pounds and between 6 feet 3 inches and 6 feet 7 inches in height. This bear tends to live on its own, claiming territory as large as 77 square miles. It is on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered and is believed to have a population of only 40 to 50 bears.
Mediterranean Monk Seal
The mediterranean monk seal is the world’s rarest pinniped species and lives in only a few places around the world, mainly in the Mediterranean and a few places in the North Atlantic Ocean. These seals can reach lengths of up to 7.9 feet and between 660 and 710 pounds in weight. The males are black in color and the females are brown or dark grey. Their average lifespan is 20 to 25 years old. Breeding can occur around the year and females typically give birth in underwater caves. Their diet primarily consists of fish and mollusks. This species is listed as endangered and their population is estimated at less than 700.
The Italian wolf belongs to the grey wolf family and lives throughout the Apennine and western Alps mountain regions. It typically weighs between 55 and 77 pounds and its greyish color turns red in the summer. This wolf species lives in packs of 2 to 7 individuals. The Italian wolf is listed as vulnerable due to constant fluctuations in its population. For example, in the 1970’s it had an estimated population size between 70 and 100 individuals. At this time, Italy enacted laws to protect this species against hunting and killing. Today, there are approximately 1,269 to 1,800 living Italian wolves.
These are just a few of the threatened mammals living throughout Italy. Additional species can be found in the chart published below.
Environmental Threats and Conservation Efforts
Italy experienced a rapid industrialization that left the country with significant environmental damage, including land degradation, air and water pollution, and deforestation. These issues have threatened the lives of many plant and animal species, leading to a chain reaction of increased endangered and threatened species. Since these issues were identified, the government has worked to improve and protect the remaining habitats and environmental regions. Today, roughly 5% of its area is protected as national parks. Additionally, Italy is recognized for its use of renewable energy and is the 4th largest solar energy user in the world. This country has also signed the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats as well as the Habitats Directive.