January 11, 2014
Over Three Quarters Of Large Carnivores In Decline

23 of the world's 31 large carnivores are in decline as humans shift more wild lands into grazing areas for livestock and areas for crops. Some are at risk of extinction. This causes other species to grow in number and they eat too much of whatever they use as food. Lions, wolves, polar bears, sea otters, and cougars are among those dwindling in numbers.

Three quarters of the species of top carnivores – lions, wolves, polar bears among them – are steadily declining worldwide, creating a cascade of negative effects that may threaten the planet’s top predator, man, according to a panel of research scientists.

The paper is in Science. The West African Lions face a severe extinction threat.

Most of these species will go extinct, at least outside of zoos. We should collect as many DNA samples now as possible in case the world's human population ever goes down far enough to allow these other species to make comebacks.

What dooms these species? human population growth. On top of that industrialization increases the amount of land used per person to grow food.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 January 11 06:29 PM 

Therapsid said at January 11, 2014 9:17 PM:

Most of these species will not go extinct, not even in the wild. It will be very easy to maintain small fragments of their populations as glorified gardens, as in fact we already do Western countries. The wolf remains in pockets of the lower 48 states. The brown bear still roams mountainous corridors in Western Europe. The tiger tenuously persists in overpopulated Sumatra and the jaguar is once again crossing over the Mexican border into the U.S.

Charismatic megafauna, especially apex predators like those discussed in this study will simply not be *allowed* to go extinct by modern man. If developing China has been able to save the giant panda, if India in the 70's was able to launch a program to save the Bengal tiger, then the developed nations will definitely be able to maintain their native predators.

WJ said at January 12, 2014 8:26 PM:

The next time the US, UN, or IMF bails out a distressed African country, they need to do it in exchange for enough land to create a huge wildlife preserve. That should be sometime this year, at the very latest.

Off-topic, but we also need to create a UN-managed refugee colony instead of bringing African refugees to the West. Let all those well-intentioned people working at refugee agencies move there and become government bureaucrats.

Therapsid said at January 12, 2014 10:06 PM:

What are you saying WJ? That the U.S. or U.N. should demand that Africans prioritize the interest of saving carnivore species over individual human lives?

Would you be willing to use this same moral criterion in the West? If not, you've exposed yourself to blatant hypocrisy.

spindizzy said at January 13, 2014 5:28 AM:

I am not an animal rights activist, but simply on grounds of supply and demand it should be the case that some animal lives are worth more than human lives at this point.

aandrews said at January 13, 2014 10:05 AM:

"...prioritize the interest of saving carnivore species over individual human lives?"

In other words, sacrifice or risk sacrificing, forever, an entire carnivore species for some individual human who is at the top of the ecological food chain, essentially completely dominant, possessing both prehensile paws capable of intricate object manipulation, complex language and the capability of conscious, abstract, analytical thought, not to mention access to the whole corpus of prior human achievement, yet evidently too stupid to help himself without destroying his surroundings, and not even then, evidently.

In addition to not causing the loss of entire species, individuals like that should at least not procreate...and in a generation the general problem will solve itself.

Nick G said at January 13, 2014 11:15 AM:

Population growth is certainly an important factor, but it's far from the most important, and focusing on it is an enormous red herring for practical purposes. Reducing the projected arc of fertility over the next 40 years by even 10% would be an enormous task, and might not help wildlife at all. Conversely, if world population was only 1 billion, it would just take us a little longer to extinguish megafauna.

No, we need to focus on the direct stuff: reducing poaching & smuggling, reducing African civil wars, staffing up park rangers, etc., etc. The terrible thing: most people just don't seem to care that much about this.

I say, charge advertisers 1% of their advertising budget whenever they use an animal as a symbol. Tony the Tiger can help save real tigers...

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2014 9:39 PM:

Nick G,

These animals would not be threatened with extinction if the world's population was 1 billion.

The biggest problem is that habitat areas are shrinking. Poaching is not a problem for most of these animals because they hold no place in people's imaginations for a supposed medical benefit.


Continental Africa is split into 48 countries, most of which aren't much interested in saving these species.

Marcel Williams said at January 16, 2014 6:32 PM:

We need to set up an International Conservation Corp amongst the wealthiest nations to lease land areas in third world countries that need environmental protection while providing local jobs by hiring local populations to patrol and protect and even clean up these areas. Such an organization could also provide free K-12 education to their children including free breakfast and lunch for the kids who attend school. Regulated eco-tourism could also provide further revenues for the leased areas.


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