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Habitat Loss

One of the serious worries conservationists face is the destruction of natural habitats occupied by wildlife. It has been a consistent threat to both animals and plants alike but more so for plants as they are not able to move and escape fire, logging and other methods used by humans to clear land. Animals are displaced and most of them can’t adapt to their newly acquired homes or hideouts. Habitat loss alone can lead to extinction.  

The number one reason for habitat loss is urbanization. Mining, trawling and agriculture also contribute to this problem. Some of these activities can even change the physical environment and this can adversely affect wildlife too. But the term ‘habitat loss’ is not limited to physical changes set into motion by man. Factors like noise pollution (generated by nearby factories or machines at work) can also induce animals to leave their surroundings, simply because anything artificial is alien to wildlife. This is why it’s so important to teach the younger generation to appreciate nature without disturbing it in anyway.

Some of the things we do in daily life can seem innocent enough in this context but over the long term, even pollution can lead to habitat loss. Too much fishing and boating in coastal areas can seriously damage coral reefs and endanger one of the most diverse and vivid ecosystems on earth. This is especially true in the Caribbean, where fun and entertainment is a direct threat to corals and turtles (they lay their eggs on sandy beaches). What about birds? We assume that they will be spared because they can always take flight and find other places to live, but studies show otherwise.

Islands present a unique case. Because of the limited space (especially in small islands), there is a high rate of habitat loss in these areas. New Zealand, Japan, Madagascar, the Philippines and few other South East Asian countries are good examples.

In the US, states that have a high agricultural input tend to report considerable habitat loss. In many parts of the East and Midwest, less than 25% of the natural vegetation remains. Tropical rainforests (found mainly in Latin America) are also under threat. These house hundreds of different species. Losing the rainforest will signal the red light for its inhabitants. About 1% of forest land is lost to us each year.

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