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Sharing a Home: Humans and Tropical Wildlife Conservation Chris Barrett Presentation to 5th Grade Lansing Middle School December 13, 2000 A Common Home Greek word “oikos”, or “household”, is the root of two key branches of science:

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sharing a home humans and tropical wildlife conservation

Sharing a Home: Humans and Tropical Wildlife Conservation

Chris Barrett

Presentation to 5th Grade

Lansing Middle School

December 13, 2000

a common home
A Common Home
  • Greek word “oikos”, or “household”, is the root of two key branches of science:
    • “ecology” = the study of the complex of relations between living organisms and their environment
    • “economics” = the study of humans’ use of resources to meet human needs/wants
what are the tropics
What are the “tropics”?

The world’s areas of greatest biological uniqueness in dark green

why does tropical wildlife conservation matter
Why Does Tropical Wildlife Conservation Matter?
  • Our duties
    • to respect all creatures (“otherkind”)
    • to respect the rights of future generations
  • Value of wildlife
    • beauty (aesthetic value)
    • uses: meat, medicines, art, skins
    • “ecosystem services” such as forest maintenance, water purification, pollination, preventing diseases and landslides, etc.
threats to wildlife
Threats to wildlife
  • Many species are threatened today
  • IUCN’s “red list” (http://www.redlist.org/)
    • 239 extinct species in US, 157 critically endangered
    • 277 extinct in poor, tropical countries, 869 critically endangered
  • Some extinction is a natural process
    • example: predator-prey relations
but humans threaten wildlife too in many unintended ways
But humans threaten wildlife too… in many unintended ways
  • By spreading disease
    • In the 1890s, European settlers brought dairy cattle to east Africa that introduced rinderpest, a disease that nearly wiped out the zebra, giraffe and wildebeest populations
but humans threaten wildlife too in many unintended ways7
But humans threaten wildlife too… in many unintended ways
  • By hunting animals
    • for meat (bushmeat is common food for poor people in tropical areas)
but humans threaten wildlife too in many unintended ways8
But humans threaten wildlife too… in many unintended ways
  • By hunting animals
    • for trophies such as ivory from elephants, paws from tigers, horns from rhinos, and skins from crocodiles and snakes
but humans threaten wildlife too in many unintended ways9
But humans threaten wildlife too… in many unintended ways
  • By using up precious water for homes, factories and farms
however the main human threat is from habitat destruction
However, the main human threat is from habitat destruction ...

Due to

- logging for valuable tropical woods like teak and mahogany

- harvesting wood for cooking fuel

however the main human threat is from habitat destruction11
However, the main human threat is from habitat destruction ...
  • Due to pollution with trash, chemicals or wastewater (sewage)
however the main human threat is from habitat destruction12
However, the main human threat is from habitat destruction ...
  • Due to war. Armies poach animals for food, destroy forests to find the enemy, and leave landmines that kill animals
most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins
Most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins ...
  • Wetlands where birds and crocodiles once lived
most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins14
Most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins ...
  • Hillsides that once were covered with trees that were home to small mammals and reptiles
most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins15
Most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins ...
  • Rangelands where herders like these Maasai warriors have chased off the elephants, zebras and predators
most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins16
Most tropical habitat destruction is due to the expansion of agriculture into fragile margins ...

In extreme cases, diversion of water and overgrazing contribute to the desertification of lands where wild ungulates once grazed

when one species is threatened it can threaten other wildlife too
When one species is threatened, it can threaten other wildlife too ...

For example, predators that depend on a “keystone species” for food. The wildebeest die-off of the 1890s almost wiped out the cheetah

when one species is threatened it can threaten other wildlife too18
When one species is threatened, it can threaten other wildlife too ...

Or birds that depend on particular types of trees, whose seeds are spread by mammals who eat the trees’ fruit

why do people threaten tropical wildlife
Why do people threaten tropical wildlife?

Economic incentives:

- Little punishment for damage done

- Much money to be made from predation

- Struggle for survival by the rural poor

  • Those who can afford conservation live abroad and don’t have to pay
we can help save tropical wildlife
We can help save tropical wildlife

By helping reduce poverty that forces the poor to clear forests for fuelwood to cook their food

we can help save tropical wildlife21
We can help save tropical wildlife

By helping improve farming technologies so that small farmers can feed their families without clearing more land or poaching wildlife

we can help save tropical wildlife22
We can help save tropical wildlife

By ending illegal logging and buying tropical wood products only from those who replant trees to replace those they cut down

we can help save tropical wildlife23
We can help save tropical wildlife

By giving locals an economic interest in the wildlife with whom they share their land and water for the benefit of all of us

we can help save tropical wildlife24
We can help save tropical wildlife

By not buying products made of ivory, rhino horn, or other illegal wildlife products

we can help save tropical wildlife25
We can help save tropical wildlife

By supporting in situ conservation in parks so natural habitat is kept intact and wildlife can remain in their natural homes

we can help save tropical wildlife26
We can help save tropical wildlife

By supporting ex situ conservation in zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums that study wildlife and protect threatened species