Study Humans Are Pushing Elephants Out of Their Natural Habitat

Study Humans Are Pushing Elephants Out of Their Natural Habitat

first_imgStay on target Rhino Poacher Reportedly Killed by Elephant, Then Eaten by LionsWatch: Firefighters Use Crane to Hoist Elephant Back to Her Feet Humans must be better neighbors to elephants, or the majestic mammals may soon go the way of the Dodo.African elephants face a range of threats: Poaching, habitat loss, human conflict, and climate change have contributed to a 60 percent decline in population since 1970.And considering the limited resources available for conservation, that number is likely to increase.Scientists from the University of Reading, in collaboration with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, last week published a study highlighting the impact of habitat loss on elephants in southern Kenya.The good news is: humans can play a key role in limiting this threat.“More greenhouse gas emissions may bring more rainfall to this part of Africa, which would actually increase the food available to elephants,” lead study author Vicky Boult, from the University’s Department of Meteorology, said in a statement. “Habitat loss, however, will reduce the area, and thus the food.“The priority in protecting these elephants will be to prevent their habitats being converted into human-dominated landscapes, so that elephants have continued access to food there,” she added.Elephant numbers in Africa have fallen from an estimated 1 million in 1970 to about 400,000 in 2016—mostly thanks to poaching and conflict.The continent’s human population, meanwhile, has doubled to 1 billion since 1982, and is expected to double again by 2050.More people means more taking of land and resources from the local wildlife; elephants, University of Reading said, are constantly being pushed into isolated spaces, where food and shelter is often scarce.“Humans must be better neighbors to elephants to allow this to happen,” Boult urged. “And initiatives must be introduced and funded to help people share space with elephants better.”Moving forward, the team plans to improve their model, taking into consideration the fact that elephants move seasonally, and may avoid some food-rich areas due to lack of water and shade or perceived risks.They will also further investigate how climate change could affect these landscapes.“It is important to note … that there will be winners and losers of climate change,” Boult said. “While Amboseli’s elephants may fare well, elephants elsewhere in Africa may see the climate become drier and their food availability decline.”Read the full paper in the journal Conservation Science and Practice.More on Geek.com:Rhino Poacher Reportedly Killed by Elephant, Then Eaten by LionsFirefighters Use Crane to Hoist Elephant Back to Her FeetTwo Youngest Elephants at Indianapolis Zoo Die a Week Apartlast_img read more