Wildlife Conservation Society scientists say they are deeply concerned about an alarming decrease in general wildlife populations in Mongolia.
The New York-based organization blames overhunting and excessive trade in skins and other animal products for the problem, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
A WCS study of Mongolia's wildlife says by some estimates, the populations of endangered species -- marmots, argali sheep, antelope, red deer, bears, Asiatic wild asses -- have plummeted by 50 percent to 90 percent.
Two exceptions are an apparent increase in the number of wolves and a gradual increase in the number of endangered Przewalski wild horses.
"The country is facing a quite extraordinary and unnoticed extinction crisis, or at least the threat of one," Peter Zahler, assistant director for Asia at the New York-headquartered Wildlife Conservation Society, told the newspaper.
The WCS said the nation's independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 "was the undoing of Mongolia's century-long effort to control wildlife trade."
The WCS says nearly all of Mongolia's annual $100 million in wildlife trade is illegal.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International
Explore further: New study reveals dangers to biological diversity from global cashmere garment industry