Wildcats, bears, wolves, but also bison, zebras, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, great apes … The majority of the 101 species of large terrestrial herbivores and carnivores are in danger and some are already condemned to
According to the commonly accepted definition, terrestrial "megafauna" includes carnivores of at least 15 kilograms and large herbivores of more than 100 kilograms, a relatively modest total of 101 species.
But three-fifths of these iconic creatures are classified as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including more than a dozen in the category "critically endangered" or "extinct in the wild."
Shot on December 5, 2016 in Nanyuki in Kenya, Sudan, the last white rhinoceros male of the North, died on March 20, 2018 at the age of 45 (AFP / Archives – Tony KARUMBA)
"Scientists in charge of conservation will soon be busy writing obituaries for species or subspecies of megafauna as they disappear from the planet, "laments Bill Ripple, of the University of Oregon, principal author of an appeal signed in December by more than 15,000 of his colleagues warning humanity
New bad news this week: Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino died at the age of 45 in a zoo in Kenya while still at home less than 700 of its congeners in the wild at the time of its birth.
Then the specialists, formerly measured, do not mince words anymore.
– "Before our eyes" –
For some, the antelope Addax of the Sahara is "doomed to extinction". For others, the eastern gorilla, also hunted for its meat, "is only one step away" from extinction, like the orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra.
Biodiversity threatened by global warming (AFP – Nick Shearman)
Fascinating animals still large enough to attract millions of tourists to Africa each year are also declining.  Lion, rhinoceros and cheetah populations have fallen by more than 90% in the last century; the number of giraffes, now classified as "vulnerable", has dropped by 40% in 30 years; and 30% of polar bears may disappear by the middle of the 21st century.
"It is very possible that we see these giants go extinct in nature during our lives, before our eyes", explains the director of IUCN Inger Andersen
And the broader context is not encouraging.
Polar bear Tonja in Tierpark Zoo Berlin 4 March 2018 (dpa / AFP / Archives – Paul Zinken)
Scientists agree that a new "mass extinction" has begun, which sees species of all kinds and sizes disappear 100 times faster than normal.  The Earth has so far experienced five mass extinctions, the most recent of which, the dinosaurs, date back 66 million years.
Today, megafauna is the victim of multiple risks related to the human expansion, from habitat loss to poaching, conflict with livestock, and for example, polar bears, climate change.
– "Silent Savannah" –
"The first threat facing African wildlife is that we eat it, "notes Paul Funston, director of the program amme lions from the NGO Panthera. A situation described in some areas as "silent savannah syndrome."
Imbi, western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) holds her baby gorilla at the Belo Horizonte Zoo (Brazil), May 12, 2017 (AFP / Archives – DOUGLAS MAGNO)
"Certain areas protected are totally intact, the woods, the birds, the bees, everything is there, but the big mammals are gone, because they have been eaten, "says Funston, noting the increase of the population on the continent
Despite the dismal record, conservationists do not lose hope and have allowed some species to recover from the beast.
But they must also be realistic, says Michael Knight, who leads the IUCN group charged African rhino.
"Africa no longer matches the dream landscapes where open run wild animals," they insist. And in 50 years, "the challenges will be ten, or maybe fifty times, more difficult."
For Paul Funston, the solution will come from strategic investments in national parks, while studies show a link between sums invested per km2 and survival rates of protected species
"We are almost ready for triage," he explains. "For lions, it's done, we have identified 14 key areas where money must be concentrated."
But "we urgently need to move away from a species-based approach," insists the expert .