Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline

GR: Worth noting that even in developed countries with slowing population growth, wildlife decline continues. In Britain, many people do small things to make their gardens more wildlife friendly. However, habitat loss and farming continue to cut carrying capacity for most wildlife species. Hedgehog and other species’ declines are accelerating, suggesting that many wildlife populations are no longer self-sustaining and are falling toward extinction. The Guardian story below includes ideas and links for steps to take to support wildlife. Unfortunately, it does not mention the big step, human population control. Without drastic efforts to cut our needs and begin returning the land and seas to their natural state, most of Earth’s wildlife species will disappear (more on human population impact).

Britain’s hedgehog population has dropped from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than one million today. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

“The plight of the hedgehog in Britain appears to be worsening, with a new survey revealing a further decline in garden sightings.

“The spiky creature was once a common sight, with the population estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. But that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade.

“The latest survey, conducted with more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, found that 51% of people did not see a hedgehog at all in 2016, up from 48% in 2015. Just 12% saw a hedgehog regularly.

“The poll’s result is in line with an in-depth analysis in 2015 by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species which found urban populations of hedgehogs had fallen by up to a third since 2000 and rural populations had declined by at least a half. Results from a citizen science survey run by the RSPB in June 2016 also revealed a falling number of sightings.

“The decline is not entirely understood but the main factors are thought to be the loss of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside – where farming has intensified – as well as road deaths. The fragmentation of habitat is also a problem as hedgehogs roam up to a mile every night to look for food and mates. A possible rise in badger numbers, which can eat hedgehogs, has also been suggested as a possible cause.” –Damian Carrington (More: Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline | Environment | The Guardian.)

How Human Actions are Compromising the Largest Mammal Migration – and Why YOU Need to Care

GR: The growing human population threatens the most numerous and widespread animals. This photo essay by Bee-Elle is about Wildebeest.

Human expansion and development in the surrounding areas of the Serengeti ecosystem have caused a rapid decline of the wildebeest population.

“The Great Migration sees approximately two million beautiful beings moving around within the Serengeti ecosystem, chasing what the fresh rains have provided: greener pastures. Comprised mostly of Wildebeest, and some hundreds of thousands of zebras and antelope, they are constantly on the move, navigating the dangers of big cats and dogs on the plains and the mammoth crocs and hippos wading in the river. It’s the largest large mammal migration in the world and declared one of the greatest wildlife shows on the planet. And what a grand spectacle it truly is.

“Behind the scenes, however, an ecological disaster is taking place.

The Mau Forest, which feeds the Mara River, is rapidly shrinking, creating massive threats to the Serengeti ecosystem.

“The source of this magnificent Mara River, which provides the life-giving water to these wondrous creatures, is the Mau Forest – the largest forest in Kenya, up in the hills, which is rapidly shrinking. In the last 20 years, more than a quarter of the forest has been decimated by human development and agricultural activity. The water that runs from it is increasingly lesser in flow and lower in quality, and in certain periods, droughts at the Mara ensue, resulting in widespread animal deaths. Last year the water flowing out of the Mau was at an all-time low. A lot rests on this forest, which also powers the country’s hydroelectric plants, and fuels key agricultural exports such as tea.

Droughts at the Maasai Mara have ensued due to a lack of rainfall and decreasing water flows from the Mau forest.

“The issue of resettling communities that live there, all of whom have land title deeds, remains at large. Community partnerships to create private conservancies have proven to be a successful strategy in the past, however, time ticks along for the Mau Forest, and if measures aren’t implemented soon, the life-giving veins of the Mara River will become even more polluted, and then dry out. This is one of the biggest threats to the Maasai Mara and the massive ecosystem to which it belongs.

Plight of the Wildebeest

The shrinking state of the forest directly threatens the Serengeti ecosystem and the Great Migration.

“Wildebeest populations are also in steep decline. Rapid population growth and development have caused significant habitat loss and disrupted their migratory corridors and dispersal areas. Fences and roads have blocked routes to important wet season ranges, which are vital for not just their survival, but for the health of the ecosystem. Their movements fertilize the soil, and the trampling of their hooves help to maintain the grasslands. Those migrating also help to feed predators, keeping life’s balance in check. Although the wildebeest are listed as a non-threatened species, they’re considered a keystone species, and much of the land relies on their existence.” –Bee-Elle (Source: How Human Actions are Compromising the Largest Mammal Migration – and Why YOU Need to Care | One Green Planet.)

Human habitat destruction is decimating giraffe populations

GR: The needs and desires of humans cause extinction, pollution, desertification, ocean acidification, and global warming. Failure is certain if we tackle any or all of these without first working to reduce the human population.

“In a year filled with many…memorable…milestones, 2016 closed with a truly depressing one, as giraffes were added to a list of “vulnerable” species headed towards eventual extinction for the first time. Their numbers have declined precipitously over the last three decades, according to a report released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which maintains endangered species lists.

“The culprit? You guessed it—human population pressures.

“Habitat destruction due to human activity—such as logging, farming, and armed conflicts—is pushing giraffe populations to the breaking point throughout the African continent. An ever-expanding human population, largely unchecked due to a huge unmet need for family planning, is having a frighteningly damaging effect on these majestic animals.

“U.S. funding of international family planning programs has the greatest impact in the developing world, where women desperately want to limit their family size but lack the means to do so. All ten of the countries with the highest total fertility rates are currently located on the African continent. Home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife, these nations are struggling to meet the needs of their human inhabitants while protecting the natural habitats that these animals depend on.

“And sadly, the implementation of the Global Gag Rule has thrown another huge obstacle into the path of slowing population growth throughout the developing world. It deeply undermines progress made towards smaller families and more sustainable communities. Humans and wildlife alike will suffer the consequences if we don’t keep fighting to make international family planning a funding priority.+ –Natalie Widel (Source: Human habitat destruction is decimating giraffe populations.)