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Why the Loss of Large Carnivores Hurts Ecosystems

The gradual loss of large carnivores hurts ecosystems, scientists warned on Friday as they launched an appeal to protect such predators. Large carnivores include animals such as lions, tigers, pumas, and wolves.

Loss of Large Carnivores Hurts Ecosystems

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

More than 75 percent of 31 large carnivore specials are declining, and 17 of them now occupy less than half of their former ranges, says a study published in the American journal Science on Jan. 10.

Large carnivores have already been largely terminated from much of the developed world including Western Europe and the United States per Channel News Asia.

And this extinction is happening around the world, the scientist said, bemoaning that the animals play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems.

“Globally, we are losing large carnivores,” wrote William Ripple, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.

“Many of them are endangered,” Ripple wrote. “Their ranges are collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally. And, ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects.”

The American, European and Australian scientists who took part in the study said it is time to launch a worldwide imitative to reintroduce these animals back into the wild and try to restore their populations in a n effort modelled on the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe. The project aims to reintroduce wolves, brown bears, and lynx into their natural habitats.

Ripple and his colleagues focused on seven species that have been studied for their widespread ecological effects after carefully reviewing published scientific reports. The seven species included African lions, leopards, Eurasian lynx, cougars, gray wolves, sea otters, and dingoes.

Authors of the study say it will be hard to convince people to allow a large scale restoration of large carnivore populations. Many are afraid of them and have fought them to protect both their livestock and their communities, they said. The team is still working hard to prove the lossof large carnivores hurts ecosystems

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