Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

9 Sep 2016

Top predator

Posted by Michael Keating

Humans have always had a difficult relationship with other predators. When I was a boy reading adventure books in the mid 20th century the theme was often that we needed hunters to protect us from the dangers of big, bad animals that wanted to eat us. Since then, there have been two major changes. Big predators, such as lions, tigers, wolves and bears have become endangered species in much of the world. They have been hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction in many regions. The other change is a growing recognition of the importance of predators in maintaining healthy ecosystems. In a recent post David Suzuki takes a hard look at the role we humans play as top predators, and the ways we are disrupting the natural evolution of life in the world. It’s a well-reasoned piece.

A recent article in the scientific journal, Current Biology, found one-tenth of the world’s wilderness has been lost since the 1990s, an area twice the size of Alaska. South America lost 29.6 per cent and Africa lost 14 per cent. The majority of the world’s remaining wilderness, about 30 million square kilometres (some 20 per cent of the world’s land), is found in North America, North Asia, North Africa and Australia. National Geographic has an excellent in-depth article.

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