Science & Technology

  • Large mammals such as the tapir are the first to disappear in human-modified ecosystems. (Mauro Galetti)
  • White-lipped peccaries used to be the dominant terrestrial mammals in South American rainforests. (Mauro Galetti)
  • Muriquis and other large primates are vanishing from tropical ecosystems. (Pedro Jordano)
  • Scientists are studying the effects of defaunation in tropical forests. (Mauro Galetti)
  • Aldabra giant tortoises, introduced to Round Island, Mauritius, as ecological replacements for the extinct Mauritian giant tortoises, eat the fast-growing invasive flora. (Christine Griffiths)
  • Aldabra giant tortoises being re-located to the offshore Mauritian island, Round Island, over 150 years after the native giant tortoises went extinct. (Christine Griffiths)
  • Coal burning power plants are the biggest source of carbon pollution, which is responsible for climate change, which is also driving animal decline.
  • A warmer climate brings changes to the flora and fauna as in this major tributary of the Amazon river in Brazil, which pushed water levels to new lows. 
  • Long-term experiments in central Kenya remove large wildlife, such as zebra and elephants, with high voltage electric fencing. The studies demonstrate strong cascading impacts of large wildlife loss on other species and on ecosystem functions - such as disease control, fire, and photosynthesis. (Duncan Kimuyu)
  • Defaunation is leading to declines in selective large mammals. Small mammals, such as mice (shown here, the broad headed mouse, Zelotomys hildagardae) benefit, and often cause nuisances to humans by vectoring diseases or destroying crops. (Lauren Helge)
  • The Maasia people in Kenya are an example of a community whose livelihood will likely be strongly impacted by continuing defaunation. (Jack Silange)

Animals on the Brink of Extinction

Published July 24, 2014


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