Exploitation of land by man may well drive hundreds of thousands of species of animals and birds to the very brink of extinction over the next 50 years, states a study published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Researchers studied the impact of land usage on biodiversity of a given habitat and the variety of flora and fauna found there. They then constructed various scenarios based on population growth nd economic changes in our society
More than 1,500 potentially affected species
They then superimposed the maps of the areas targeted by human expansion and that of the regions inhabited by the various animal species. By doing so scientists were able to determine that 886 species of amphibians, 436 species of birds and 376 mammal species could be at risk of extinction.
By comparison, 140 species of birds have been declared extinct globally since the 16th century.
Some regions more impacted than others
Animals in Central and Eastern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, regions with a high population growth, are the most at risk.
In areas such as these, land usage is primarily for breeding and raising cattle, but deforestation for palm oil and soybean production is also equally devastating. Thus, our eating habits could be responsible for the disappearance of several hundred species around the world.
The study states that consumption of certain types of food in industrialized countries leads to the extinction of species that live thousands of kilometers away. One-third of the impact felt in South America and a quarter of the impact on Africa would be caused by the consumption of Western countries.
Other scenarios not any better
Researchers at Yale University have also put together a scenario that would include efforts by men to limit their impact on the environment. But even here, the numbers suggest that animals will suffer.
These scenarios could see loss of 30-50% of their habitat within the next 50 years, especially in areas of high stress. And for some species like the white-browed Anabate (Brazil) or Mrs. Gray’s Lechwe, a large mammal living in Sudan, future prospects seem very dim.
Take a look at the video above for more on some of these extraordinary species we run the risk of losing...