Habitat Loss

Affected areas for the Elephant Affected areas for the Rhinoceros Affected areas for the Tiger Affected areas for the Snow Leopard Affected areas for the Moon Bear Affected areas for the Painted Dog Affected areas for Climate Change Affected areas for Pollution Affected areas for Habitat Loss Affected areas for Wildlife Crime

Habitat Loss

Habitat is defined as "the natural environment in which a species lives". A habitat includes all four necessities for survival – food, water, shelter and breeding area – as well as climate, predators and other animals, plants, landforms and other natural characteristics.

Most plant and animal species have special adaptations which make them suited to their natural environment.  Therefore, they may not be able to adjust to changes within their habitat. Many adapt over time to cope but changes brought about by humans are often too quick to enable this adjustment to take place and may result in extinction of the species affected.

Habitat Loss LOCATION

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Habitat loss may occur as a result of natural phenomena such as fire, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions which we are unable to control. However, human development is responsible for much of the habitat fragmentation and destruction we are experiencing today all around the world. Human settlements and expansion often occur at the expense of other species.  With a worldwide population of more than 7 billion, the pressure on land for agriculture, housing and more is rapidly increasing.

Habitat destruction: Humans are destroying habitats by cutting down or burning forests, removing hedges, mowing fields, re-claiming marshlands and wetlands.

Habitat fragmentation: Large areas of wildlife habitat have been cut up into fragments by roads, cities, dams and other development.

Habitat degradation: Fires, pollution of rivers and oceans which habitats can degrade so badly that they no longer support native wildlife.

Protected areas help to reduce the threat to wildlife

Habitat Loss Facts

Increasing amounts of land area is needed for agriculture to feed the ever growing human population.

Only 8% of the world's forests are protected, yet the vast majority of mammals and 75% of bird species live in forests. Endangered species such as the gorilla, orang-utan and chimpanzee depend on the forest to survive. We have lost half of the world's forests in just 50 years and the rate of loss is accelerating.

The world's oceans are being over-exploited for fish with many species threatened with extinction. Thousands of miles of fishing nets are emptying the oceans beyond a sustainable level. Tourism and destructive fishing methods such as dynamite and ocean floor fishing nets are damaging and destroying vital coral reef habitat.

Habitat loss is affecting many of our world's animal species. Snow leopards are at risk from large-scale mining, and humans are encroaching into the habitat of tigers, rhinos, moon bears and many other species. This can lead to increased human-wildlife conflict which may result in the deaths of both animals and humans.

Desertification, a type of land degradation where a relatively dry land region becomes increasingly dry, will directly affect the livelihoods of 850 million people. The Sahara desert is thought to be advancing southwards by approximately 5-10km per year.

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Habitat loss is often caused by deforestation which has a serious impact on wildlife.

Stop Habitat Loss

Establishing Protected Areas (PAs) such as national parks, laws to reduce the amount of deforestation, pollution and carbon emissions and careful planning of human population and human settlements are all essential to protect the Earth's natural habitats.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) funds education programmes to raise awareness of the importance of protecting endangered species and their natural habitats.

You can help too by supporting DSWF through holding a fundraising event to raise awareness and funds about habitat loss or taking part in our art and poetry competition!

 

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