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Human-Led Activities: A Bigger Threat To Wildlife Conservation Than Climate Change, New Study Finds

First Posted: Aug 12, 2016 06:20 AM EDT
Feeding animals
A new study finds that humans are a larger threat to the wildlife than climate change. machadolopes / Pixabay CC0

According to a study of nearly 9,000 'threatened' or 'near-threatened' species conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), human-led activities including agriculture, livestock farming and poaching have adversely affected around three-quarters of the species, while climate change has affected only 19 per cent of the species.

Daily Mail reported that the Western gorilla and Chinese pangolin species are near to extinction because of high demand for their meat and body parts, while the Sumatran rhinoceros too are nearly extinct for the supposed medicinal properties of its horn. Also, the conversion of animals' natural habitats into industrial farms and plantations by human beings to raise livestock and grow commodity crops for fuel or food has affected more than half of the species of animals and plants included in the study.

The researchers have pointed out that conservation budgets should must take into consideration this reality. Lead author Sean Maxwell, a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, said that tackling the adverse impact of over-harvesting and agricultural activities is very crucial to take on the biodiversity extinction crisis. He added that these human-led threats must be at the forefront of the conservation agenda rather than climate change, reported The Washinton Post.

"History has taught us that minimising impacts from overharvesting and agriculture requires a variety of conservation actions but these can be achieved," said Dr James Watson, co-author from the WCS and the University of Queensland. He also said that actions such as well managed protected areas, enforcement of hunting regulations, and managing agricultural systems, all can play a crucial role in reducing the biodiversity crisis. In order to reduce threat, these activities should be well funded and prioritized in areas.

The study findings, which has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, comes a month before the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress meeting which is scheduled to happen in Hawaii in September. The event will see environmental policy makers from across the world discuss future priorities for global conservation efforts.

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