The Open Door Web Site
Part XVII : Human Influences on Populations Index
HUMAN INFLUENCES ON POPULATIONS
How Humans can Help
There are several ways in which humans can react and help preserve nature. Conservation, protection from hunting, breeding in captivity and preserving habitats, as well as setting up natural parks.
Wildlife conservation can help to stop extinction. Animals and plants have to be studied to find out how many there are, where they live and how often they breed. In this way, a list of endangered and threatened species can be established.
Protection from hunting
Species which are deliberately hunted need to be protected. This means no more hunting of that animal until its numbers recover. Or it could mean setting a limit on when and where they are hunted.
Breeding in captivity
If it is possible, an animal or a plant can be bred in a zoo and then released in the wild. This has been successful for saving some species. Two hundred years ago, the Hawaiian goose population was estimated at 25,000 individuals. In 1940, only 43 individuals remained. After breeding the geese in captivity and releasing them, their population is up to 3000 today.
Breeding animals in captivity is very expensive. It costs much less to control hunting or to protect the habitat where the animal lives.
Protecting habitats needs management
It is not enough to build a fence around a piece of land and call it a nature reserve. Nature reserves and national parks need managing. Many people, such as farmers, live in national parks and other people want to visit the parks for tourism. For the system to work, humans and the protected species have to live together in harmony. In Europe, where there is very little of the natural vegetation left, traditional farming is essential to maintain a nature reserve or a national park. Another reason for management is that the nature reserve may become so successful that the protected animals grow in numbers and start to destroy their own habitat.
This is the case in the Serengeti reserve of Tanzania where elephants were so well protected from poachers that they became too numerous. To prevent the population from getting too big and destroying the park, culling became necessary. Culling is a technique of park management whereby some animals must be killed to preserve an appropriate-sized population.
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