According to a recently published study, many large wild herbivores are facing extinction.
The study, led by Professor William Ripple of Oregon State University, covered 74 of the largest terrestrial herbivore species on the planet including hippos, elephants and rhinos.
According to researchers, “Large herbivores are generally facing dramatic population declines and range contractions, such that about 60% are threatened with extinction. Nearly all threatened species are in developing countries, where major threats include hunting, land-use change, and resource depression by livestock.”
The authors say the dwindling population could lead to an “empty landscape” in many parts of the planet. They also examined some of the lesser known effects on various ecosystems.
Researchers further note, “Loss of large herbivores can have cascading effects on other species including large carnivores, scavengers, mesoherbivores, small mammals, and ecological processes involving vegetation, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and fire regimes. The rate of large herbivore decline suggests that ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.”
The research team says that more coordinated efforts are needed at international as well as local level to further study the impact of decline in herbivore population.