Study finds larger predator populations in decline

By Kyle Johnson,

Population numbers for larger predators, like lions, bears and others, are going into decline according to a study published on Friday in Science.

The study found that three quarters of larger predators are losing ground due to persecution from humans and dwindling habitat, reports BBC News.

The study notes that whole areas of the whole have lost increasing numbers of larger predators, especially in the developed world, where there are practically none. As populations continue to decline, the ecosystem could be thrown out of whack.

"Globally, we are losing our large carnivores," said Professor William Ripple, of Oregon State University and the lead author. "Their ranges are collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally."

According to Outside, one example is in Yellowstone National Park, where lower numbers of wolves and other large predators could see increased grazing animals, which could ruin vegetation and make it tougher for smaller mammals.

BBC notes another example is in Africa where olive baboons have begun to be the biggest threat to farmers and their crops, more so than elephants, as the numbers for lions and leopards decline.

The paper suggests that to fix the problem there needs to be an about face in the view in larger predators and how they are important to an ecosystem and not just nuisances. "Human tolerance of these species is a major issue for conservation," Ripple said.

"We say they animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but they are also providing economic and ecological services that people value."

image: Wikimedia Commons

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