Collapse of Large Herbivores May Lead to “Empty Landscapes” Worldwide

May 19, 2015

By Maddie Stone

It’s happening across the world, from grasslands to savannas to forest to deserts. Earth’s wild ecosystems are emptying out and falling silent.

Large herbivores—rhinos, zebras, camels, elephants, tapirs, hippos—are some of our planet’s most iconic creatures. They’re also among the fastest disappearing animals on Earth, according to a report published Friday in Science Advances. The disappearance of large herbivores threatens to unravel the very fabric of the landscapes they trod, raising the specter of a future where Earth’s forests are vacant and the only sound to be heard on the African savannah is the howl of wind through abandoned fields.

Surprise: It’s our fault. Specifically, the decline of large herbivores is due to a combination of excessive hunting and destruction of habitat.

In the new study, wildlife biologist William Ripple and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of data on 74 of the world’s largest herbivore species—those weighing over 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, on average—looking at endangerment status, key threats, and the ecological consequences of severe population decline. The study’s conclusion? Large herbivores worldwide are facing steep population declines and range contractions, such that roughly 60% are now threatened with extinction.

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8 comments on “Collapse of Large Herbivores May Lead to “Empty Landscapes” Worldwide

  • We lost one of the rhino species due to a Chinese superstition that its horn powered helped with erectile dysfunction. That is nonsense. It was just keratin.

    If I were dictator of the world, that would de a capital crime.

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  • 2
    aroundtown says:

    I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we hear the laments suggesting how sorry they are for their demise. There’s one thing that you can bank on – governments will suggest they did all they could to stop it. Yeah right, and a pig just flew over my house.

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  • I sometimes attempt to watch some history on the H2 channel (Comcast). It is irritating to see that most often what is offered are programs on UFO’s and ancient aliens. Offering this kind of nonsense by Comcast so often must be due to a large audience that likes these programs. It seems as though people would rather see fairy tales rather than actual history and that pleases advertisers. So it goes with the Chinese and possibly others who believe rhinoceros horns are some kind of aphrodisiac. These kind of beliefs also apply to religions, such as gods, virgin births, holy ghosts, rising from the dead, vampires, devils, spirits, numerology, and astrology. When will it ever end? The best definition of a virgin is a woman who has never given birth, why can’t we accept this definition? What makes so many people believe that a book written over 2000 years ago is the absolute truth, when obviously the charismatic bearded men were ignorant and superstitious?

    Along with a world wide human population growth, eventually we will reduce this planet to one with a dearth of wildlife and all that we will be left with crows, rats, mice, ticks, and fleas….that is is we don’t have a third world war using nuclear weapons.

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  • 6
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Done deal. Hunter’s raison d’être, to raise awareness; let the controversy continue.

    Thanks for the link Bonnie, this is news to me. I am shocked to learn that the government of Namibia is auctionning permits to legally hunt an endangered species like black rhinos.

    The rationale seems to be that killing older rhinos that don’t contribute to the gene pool and who kill younger male rhinos is helping the species. I’m no conservationist but this idea sounds like total BS to me: the number of rhinos killed by other rhinos is a drop of water in the ocean compared to the number of rhinos killed by poachers.

    I personally think this is simply an instance of a rich white american redneck making up excuses to hunt an endangered animal and to add insult to injury, tries to pass it off as “conservation” in a lame attempt to launder his conscience and walk away “squeaky clean” in the process.

    At one point, he even pretends to be emotional and wipe a fictitious tear from his eye… Yeah sure Corey. Just don’t expect an Oscar for that one ok? Sorry for the rant folks but this kind of hypocrisy infuriates me.

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