AboutZoos, Since 2008


World’s mam­mal wildlife is being hunted and eaten into extinction

pub­lished 20 Octo­ber 2016 | mod­i­fied 20 Octo­ber 2016

The ongo­ing decline of more than 300 species of ani­mals is hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal impacts and pos­ing a food secu­rity threat for mil­lions of peo­ple in Asia, Africa and South Amer­ica, accord­ing to the first global assess­ment of the hunt­ing and trap­ping of ter­res­trial mammals.

Species of large wild ungu­lates, pri­mates and bats are threat­ened pri­mar­ily by unreg­u­lated or ille­gal hunt­ing, accord­ing to data col­lected by the Inter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Nature (IUCN), a non-​governmental organisation.

Mammal species threatened by huntingMam­mal species threat­ened by hunt­ing span a range of tax­o­nomic and trophic groups, and per­form a wide range of func­tional roles, rang­ing from seed dis­per­sal to pest con­trol to ecosys­tem engi­neer­ing and reg­u­la­tion. Endan­ger­ment clas­si­fi­ca­tion for each species noted on the image. Sta­tus cat­e­gories are vul­ner­a­ble (VU), endan­gered (EN) and crit­i­cally endan­gered (CR). See the elec­tronic sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­ial for photo cred­its. See elec­tronic sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­ial, table S1 for pop­u­la­tion trends and endan­ger­ment cat­e­gory def­i­n­i­tion and trends.
(a) Preda­tors, left to right: clouded leop­ard (Neo­fe­lis neb­u­losa), tiger (Pan­thera tigris), mar­bled cat (Pard­ofe­lis mar­morata).
(b) Her­bi­vores, left to right: Bac­trian camel (Camelus ferus), takin (Camelus ferus), Nil­giri tahr (Nil­gir­i­tra­gus hylocrius).
© Insec­ti­vores, left to right: long-​beaked echidna (Zaglos­sus brui­jnii), giant ground pan­golin (Smut­sia gigan­tea), aye aye (Dauben­to­nia mada­gas­carien­sis).
(d) Fru­gi­vores & grani­vores, left to right: Mada­gas­can fruit bat (Ptero­fus rufus), col­lared brown lemur (Eule­mur col­laris) and Sulawesi giant squir­rel (Rubrisci­u­rus rubriven­ter).

William J Rip­ple et al. 2016. Bush­meat hunt­ing and extinc­tion risk to the world’s mam­mals in Royal Soci­ety Open Sci­ence; cre­ative com­mons license

Researchers con­cluded that only bold changes and polit­i­cal will can dimin­ish the pos­si­bil­ity of humans con­sum­ing many of the world’s wild mam­mals to the point of extinction.

An inter­na­tional team led by William Rip­ple, dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor of ecol­ogy at Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity, analysed data on the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species to reach their find­ings, which are pub­lished on 19 Octo­ber in Royal Soci­ety Open Sci­ence, a pro­fes­sional journal.

Our goal is to raise aware­ness of this global cri­sis. Many of these ani­mals are at the brink of extinc­tion. The ille­gal smug­gling in wildlife and wildlife prod­ucts is run by dan­ger­ous inter­na­tional net­works and ranks among traf­fick­ing in arms, human beings and drugs in terms of profits.
William Rip­ple, lead author, pro­fes­sor of ecol­ogy, Ore­gon State University »

The ani­mals at risk range from large (grey ox, Bac­trian camels, bearded and warty pigs) to small (golden-​capped fruit bat, black-​bearded fly­ing fox and Bulmer’s fruit bat). Hunt­ing endan­gers more pri­mate species — 126, includ­ing the low­land gorilla, chim­panzee, bonobo and many species of lemurs and mon­keys — than any other group.

Pop­u­la­tions of other species are declin­ing and sim­i­larly threat­ened. Javan and black rhi­noc­er­oses, tapirs, deer, tree kan­ga­roos, armadil­los, pan­golins, rodents and large car­ni­vores are all hunted or trapped for meat, med­i­cine, body parts, tro­phies or live pets.

Mammal percentage threatened by huntingThe per­cent­age of species threat­ened by hunt­ing for human con­sump­tion and other threat­ened species in each mam­malian order. The val­ues on the x-​axis refer to the per­cent­age of species out of all mam­mal species in each order. The cat­e­gory ‘Other threat­ened species’ con­sists of the other threat­ened mam­mal species where hunt­ing for con­sump­tion is not a pri­mary or major threat. Hor­i­zon­tal bars are sorted from high­est to low­est total per­cent­age of threat­ened species in each order. Num­bers on the y-​axis after the order names are the num­ber of species threat­ened by hunt­ing fol­lowed by the total num­ber of species in the order. Ele­phants are threat­ened by hunt­ing but not listed here because they are pre­dom­i­nately killed for their orna­men­tal ivory and not for the con­sump­tion of meat or med­i­cine (see Rip­ple WJ et al.2015 Col­lapse of the world’s largest her­bi­vores. 1, e1400103). The order Noto­rycte­mor­phia (mar­su­pial moles) was omit­ted as it con­tains only data-​deficient species.

William J Rip­ple et al. 2016. Bush­meat hunt­ing and extinc­tion risk to the world’s mam­mals in Royal Soci­ety Open Sci­ence; cre­ative com­mons license

Sci­en­tists reviewed IUCN data on 1,169 of the world’s ter­res­trial mam­mals that are listed as threat­ened with extinc­tion. These ani­mals rep­re­sent 26 per­cent of all mam­mals for which data exist to deter­mine whether or not they are endan­gered. Forests, grass­lands and deserts in the devel­op­ing world are now lack­ing many species of wild ani­mals and becom­ing “empty land­scapes,” the authors wrote in their study.

The researchers sug­gested five broad steps for effec­tively address­ing the threat:

Laws could be changed to increase penal­ties for poach­ing and ille­gal traf­fick­ing and to expand pro­tected habi­tats for endan­gered mam­mals.

Prop­erty rights could be pro­vided to com­mu­ni­ties that ben­e­fit from the pres­ence of wildlife.

Food alter­na­tives can help shift con­sump­tion to more sus­tain­able species, espe­cially protein-​rich plant foods.

Edu­ca­tion could help con­sumers in all coun­tries under­stand the threats to mam­mals that are hunted or trapped.

Assis­tance in fam­ily plan­ning could help relieve pres­sure on wildlife in regions where women want to delay or avoid preg­nancy.

The researchers sug­gest that, to curb this over­hunt­ing cri­sis, more logis­ti­cal and finan­cial sup­port will be needed from the richer, devel­oped countries.

Our analy­sis is con­ser­v­a­tive,” said Rip­ple. “These 301 species are the worst cases of declin­ing mam­mal pop­u­la­tions for which hunt­ing and trap­ping are clearly iden­ti­fied as a major threat. If data for a species were miss­ing or incon­clu­sive, we didn’t include it.”

Our goal is to raise aware­ness of this global cri­sis. Many of these ani­mals are at the brink of extinc­tion. The ille­gal smug­gling in wildlife and wildlife prod­ucts is run by dan­ger­ous inter­na­tional net­works and ranks among traf­fick­ing in arms, human beings and drugs in terms of profits.”

Peo­ple across much of the globe depend on wild meat for part of their diets, the researchers noted. For exam­ple, they wrote, “an esti­mated 89,000 met­ric tons of meat with a mar­ket value of about $200 mil­lion are har­vested annu­ally in the Brazil­ian Ama­zon, and exploita­tion rates in the Congo basin are esti­mated to be five times higher….” Loss of these mam­mals could affect the liveli­hoods of mil­lions of peo­ple, the researchers said.

Over­hunt­ing of mam­mals is con­cen­trated, they added, in coun­tries with poorer pop­u­la­tions. As hunters find it harder to feed their fam­i­lies, it is likely they will switch to less pre­ferred species, migrate, or suf­fer from mal­nu­tri­tion and disease.

Not all wild meat is con­sumed for sub­sis­tence, the researchers noted. Much of it is sold in mar­kets and as del­i­ca­cies in urban restau­rants. In 2010, another team of sci­en­tists found that about five tons of bush­meat are smug­gled weekly in tourist lug­gage through the Charles de Gaulle air­port in Paris.

Large car­ni­vores and her­bi­vores (big­ger than 10 kilo­grams or 22 pounds) com­prise a small per­cent­age of all mam­mals listed but tend to be impacted more severely by over­hunt­ing, the researchers reported. By dis­pers­ing seeds and con­trol­ling smaller ani­mals such as rodents, large ani­mals have sig­nif­i­cant impacts on the environment.

The loss of large mam­mals could lead to long-​lasting eco­log­i­cal changes, includ­ing over­pop­u­la­tion of prey, higher dis­ease risks and the loss of ben­e­fits for humans, the researchers said. The sci­en­tists found that 57 species of even-​toed ungu­lates (such as hip­popota­mus, wild yak, camel, marsh deer) larger than 10 kilo­grams are threat­ened by hunting.

Smaller mam­mals play cru­cial roles in dis­pers­ing seeds, pol­li­nat­ing plants and con­trol­ling insects. The largest group of mam­mals under 1 kilo­gram (about 2 pounds) threat­ened by hunt­ing is com­prised of 27 species of bats.

(Source: Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity news release, 18.10.2016)

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Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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