To restore large carnivore populations, make people wealthier, study

To restore large carnivore populations, make people wealthier, study

The decline of big carnivore populations like lions, bears and lynx is most closely associated with rapid economic growth, according to a study published this week in Nature Communications. The study looked at 50 species of large carnivores worldwide over the past 50 years and found that social and economic factors, like people’s quality of life, are more closely linked to declines of these species than just environmental factors like habitat loss and climate change. “The decline of large carnivores is stark. Lions and tigers are already absent from more than 90% of their historic range,” Thomas Johnson, from the University of Sheffield who led the study while based at the University of Reading, said in a press release. “At home, many of the UK carnivore species, such as lynx, wolf and bear have already been hunted into extinction.” According to Johnson, some carnivores are killed for their meat or for the wildlife trade, while others, like lions, may be murdered if they endanger a person’s life or way of life, such as their cattle. “In the midst of rapid development, people appear to become less tolerant of carnivores, conflicts explode, and we suspect that incidences of poaching and persecution rocket,” Johnson said. As people become wealthier, they are more likely to tolerate big cats and other carnivores. So, encouraging a sustainable model of social and economic development, rather than focusing only on issues like climate change, is the best way to save carnivores, the study suggested. The study also looked at…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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