Armed conflicts are devastating for the large mammals that live in Africa. A study has analysed for the first time the impact of the wars on the continent of africa from 1945 to 2010, and reveals that more than 70% of national parks are affected by these conflicts.
In 1977, two years after the war of independence of Mozambique, the country was immersed in a civil war that lasted 15 years. The fighting resulted in over 900,000 deaths and five million displaced civilians. But the consequences of the conflict also reached the wild life: 90% of the large mammals of Gorongosa National Park was killed.
In the areas where it will produce more wars, the population of large mammals decreases
The war ended in 1992 and 20 years later, more than 80% of the fauna had recovered. So could not verify the researcher of the University of Princeton (USA), Joshua Daskin. Together with the scientist Robert Pringle, of the University of Yale (USA), Daskin has analyzed the trend of animal populations living with the war.
For this purpose, the scientists quantified, for the first time, its effects on protected areas throughout the african continent over several decades (1945 to 2010). The study, published in the journal Nature, reveals that in the areas where it will produce more wars, the population of large mammals decreases, so that the conflicts are good indicators of the loss of biodiversity.
“Where the conflict has been more frequent, to the wildlife populations have fared worst; in fact, we have not found populations to increase in size in those locations. But we found relatively few extinctions complete, suggesting that the regions post-conflict can provide a great potential for restoration initiatives,” points out to Sinc Joshua Daskin, chief author of the work.
The researchers studied the impact of conflicts in 253 populations of 36 species of large herbivores in african parks, such as elephants and hippos, among others, of 126 protected areas in 19 countries in Africa.
The work demonstrates that 70% of these protected areas were affected by war over the last seven decades. In a quarter of these areas, the conflicts lasted on average nine years. In the case of Chad, Namibia and Sudan, for example, the fighting lasted 20 years in each protected area.
According to the investigation, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (around the Virunga National Park) is the area that has experienced a greater threat to elephants, gorillas and other animals due to his long period of war.
“Another example is South Sudan, where conflict and political instability hinder the management of the ecosystem Sudd, a wetland of global importance and home to the queen of the Nile, a species of african antelope in danger of extinction. Unfortunately, there are many other examples throughout the continent”, explains Daskin.
The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (drc) is the area that has experienced a greater threat to elephants and gorillas
A place for hope
But, despite the fact that the conflicts continue to affect the whole continent, there is still place for hope. The recovery of the fauna of the National Park Gorongsa in Mozambique, on the brink of extinction in the years 90, is the best example. In this case, was achieved mainly because they created the conditions necessary for nature to continue its course after the war.
“A few wild animals remaining were allowed to reproduce under the surveillance of guards that conduct patrols against poachers, but also in conjunction with programmes of human development”, informs Daskin.
On the other hand, to get people to not hunt the wild animals are, by necessity, the researchers point out that in this case was important to the socio-economic assistance. “Gorongosa leads you to hundreds of school children to the park for safaris education about wildlife, providing agricultural assistance to farmers nearby and run medical programs. We would love for you to manage more parks along with the support to human development”, he concludes.
The exception: wars that benefit the animals
Although in a general way the wars are devastating for the wildlife, because the animals serve for food and their habitats are destroyed, some conflicts may generate the opposite effect and prevent humans from entering protected areas, as they are considered too dangerous.
“The classic example occurs outside of Africa, in the Demilitarized Zone of Korea who has worked as a natural reserve of de facto for nearly seven decades,” says Joshua Daskin. On the other hand, elephant populations in Zimbabwe in Africa may have escaped in a similar way to the impacts of poaching during the War in Rhodesia Bush (1964 to 1979).
In addition, when conflicts occur, the extractive industries also reduce their activity. “The commercial logging and mining diminished when the companies close down operations in areas of clashes and the trade routes where they sell the meat of wild animals will also be prohibited”, underlines the scientist.
Source: agenciasinc.it is
Bibliographic reference: Joshua Daskin et al. “Warfare and wildlife declines in Africa’s protected areas“. Nature January 10, 2018.