Guns, Nets, and Bulldozers

August 10, 2016

Photo Credit: ©Caleb McClennen/WCS

Three quarters of the world's threatened species are imperiled because people are converting their habitat into agricultural lands and overharvesting their populations.

Less than a month away from the kick-off the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, that's what a team of scientists, including researchers from WCS, has just reported in the journal Nature.

There are 5,407 species threatened by agriculture alone, including cheetah, African wild dog and Asia's hairy-nosed otter. Illegal hunting is decimating populations of all rhinoceros and elephant species, western gorilla and Chinese pangolin. Other threats are affecting substantially fewer species, for example hooded seals being threatened by climate change. Perhaps surprisingly, climate change was ranked seventh among the 11 threats studied.

The authors also add, however, that while overharvesting and agricultural activities are currently the predominant threats to species, this may change in the coming decades.

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