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Eating our way through Africa

A collection of new studies shows ominous signs that large wildlife in Africa is disappearing not only in general, but from the national parks of all sizes.

Writing in the African Journal of Ecology, Tim Caro from UC Davis and Paul Scholte from Leiden University in the Netherlands say that there are a variety of reasons for the sharp, recent decline in large animals, which all come back to one cause: people.

In some parks, hunting animals for bushmeat — for consumption either locally or export around the world — is a problem. In others, human settlements and farms are encroaching on park land. While some parks could still be reinforced with more wardens, or remote areas set aside, Caro and Schulte note that it would be “difficult, and in some cases immoral” to stop the demographic and economic changes in Africa.

We may just have to get used to Africa as a continent with only small pockets of large mammals, they write — “just like Europe.”

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