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 user 2007-09-04 at 11:31:00 am Views: 41
  • #18691

    Parks ‘failing Africa’s wildlife’
    parks in Africa, originally set up to conserve endangered species, are
    failing to protect wildlife within their boundaries, a study
    claims.Researchers say a decline in the number of large mammals, such
    as antelopes, was a result of increased pressures on the reserves’
    ecology.They said the parks faced an uncertain future as a greater
    number of people increased the demand for resources.

    The study
    has been published in the African Journal of Ecology.”For years,
    wildlife managers and biologists in Africa have known that large
    mammals were disappearing outside reserves,” ecologists Tim Caro and
    Paul Scholte wrote.”But now a raft of studies are showing that we have
    moved beyond this to the next step – we are losing species from many of
    Africa’s national parks.”What the new data show is even relatively
    well-organised protected areas cannot be relied on as long-lasting
    conservation tools,” they added.

    Parks under siege
    The pair,
    from the University of California, Davis, US, and Leiden University,
    Netherlands, examined a number of studies tracking the decline of
    antelopes.The main cause behind the animals’ decline was human
    activity, they concluded: “Many parks are subject to the ravaging
    impact of illegal hunters.”Bushmeat hunting is often the most common
    factor pressing upon antelope populations. In the old days, this was
    for local consumption, now it includes tables in far-off cities that,
    incredibly, extend to London and Paris.”Another factor was marked
    increases in human populations and immigration, resulting in
    communities moving into reserves to farm.Around smaller reserves, the
    increase in farming shut off migration corridors used by the animals,
    the researchers added.They warned that there was “no easy solution” to
    halt the decline in antelope numbers.”The old idea of setting aside
    large tracts of land in remote areas far from human populations is
    still a viable option in some parts of the continent.”But it is a
    conservation approach increasingly outmoded by land-use change,
    demographics and policy reform,” they wrote.”We may have to get used to
    [a] relaxation in Africa’s network of famous reserves, leaving a
    continent containing isolated pockets of large mammal diversity living
    at low population sizes – just like Europe.”