Human activity has already harmed the environment beyond repair from certain points of view. There are numerous studies that analyze the impact global warming has upon certain habitats and how it affects some species.
A new research carried out by specialists at the Oregon State University shows that terrestrial herbivores are about to undergo a significant decline. The study took into account various areas of Africa and Asia that hosted herbivores weighing more than 220 pound (100 kg) each. These regions are known to be abundant in zebras, tapirs, rhinos, camels, rhinoceroses. 74 species of herbivores were targeted for the study, whose main aim was to identify what factors contribute most to the decrease in the number of herbivores. The results were astounding, revealing that about 60 percent of these animals are likely to become extinct in the future. Thus, researchers warn that many savannahs, deserts and forests could become “empty landscapes”, quite soon. This could alter the whole balance of the ecosystem, which is already at risk because of so many carnivores that have become part of the endangered species category.
Among the causes of such alarming results, human activity is blamed the most, with a variety of factors, such as global warming – that leads to habitat loss, excessive hunting, the consumption of meat and the demand for animal skin and horn. Climate change and the features of certain environments could also lead to the extinction of plant-eating animals. The lead researcher at Oregon State University, Professor William Ripple (College of Forestry), who is also one of the authors of the study published in the journal Science Advances, said that it is difficult to put an end to harmful human activity because people’s needs must be constantly fulfilled. However, the authors of the research do encourage ecologists to find ways to sustain the environment so that these animals survive as long as possible: “Without radical intervention, large herbivores (and many smaller ones) will continue to disappear from numerous regions with enormous ecological, social, and economic costs”. Professor Ripple also hopes the research will make a difference: “We hope this report increases appreciation for the importance of large herbivores in these ecosystems and that policymakers take action to conserve these species.”
The effects of such losses might be devastating. They can threat to destroy the food chain as well as the habitat. Thus, the extinction of these animals will drag along important ecological, social and economical problems.
These areas that the study focused on are not the only ones threatened. Africa, India and Southeast Asia will be the most affected ones. North America has already lost many of its large mammals, also because of habitat loss and hunting.
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