Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kenya wildlife devasted by increasing human impact

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: Wildlife populations in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve have declined massively over the past quarter century due to pressures from a rapidly expanding human presence, according to a study released Wednesday.
Between 1989 and 2003 the giraffe population in the Maasai Mara declined by 95 percent, warthogs by 80 percent and impalas by 65 percent, according to a report by the International Livestock Research Institute, which tracked serious declines in four other hoofed mammals.

"These losses are widespread and substantial," Joseph Ogutu, who led the ILRI study, said in a statement. "And they are likely linked to the steady increase in human settlements on lands adjacent to the reserve." The Maasai are a tribe of semi-nomadic herders, but they have increasingly settled in recent decades, upsetting the historic harmony that previously existed between the human and animal communities around the reserve.

Large scale crop cultivation, the massive expansion of permanent human settlements, and increased presence of livestock have deprived wildlife of grazing areas, leading to a decline in numbers….

A giraffe in Kenya, shot by Kevin Walsh  , Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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