Queensland [Australia], October 24 (ANI): According to a University of Queensland-led study, some of Asia’s largest creatures, like tigers and elephants, are living with people despite trends toward extinction that date back 12,000 years.
Researchers combed through paleontological records to compare the 14 most prominent species in Asia with their current numbers in tropical forests.
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Zachary Amir, a PhD student at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences and the Ecological Cascades Lab, noted that populations of four species–tigers, Asian elephants, wild boars, and clouded leopards–increased in places with developed human infrastructure.
“These results show that, under the right conditions, some large animals can live nearby humans and avoid extinction,” Mr Amir said.
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“These results challenge the narrative within some conservation circles that humans and megafauna are incompatible.
“Globally there is a trend towards ‘trophic downgrading’, a term referring to the disproportionate loss of the world’s largest animals.
“Trophic downgrading is usually worst near humans because hunters target larger species.
“But in the case of tigers, elephants, wild boars and clouded leopards, their Asian populations are higher nearby humans.
“This may be the outcome of tougher anti-poaching efforts in the national parks closer to human settlements and more frequently visited by tourists.”
The study also revealed that deforestation was still having an effect on animals, with clouded leopard populations, in particular, seeing a sharp reduction there.
But according to Mr Amir, studies have shown that large animal species could coexist with people in relatively narrow environments if they were not hunted.
“Previously, there have only been a few examples of large Asian species thriving in small habitats near humans, notably in Mumbai, India where leopards in an urban park prey on stray dogs,” Mr Amir said referring to a prior UQ study.
“Thankfully, we found that a wider range of animals can coexist with humans.”
Two large animal species are thriving once more at one of their research locations in Singapore, where poaching has been eradicated and significant forest restoration efforts have been made.
“Singapore has actually experienced the natural re-wilding of sambar deer and wild boars, which are now frequently observed in an urban forest, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve,” Mr Amir said.
“If we replicate those protection efforts in larger forests and other counties, we may see positive impacts right around the world.
“But before this can happen, humans need to get our act together and limit poaching.”
While there are some positive results, UQ’s Dr Matthew Luskin said the study also noted strong declines in tapirs, Sumatran rhinoceros, sun bears, guar and other large animals.
“The key innovation of this work was to systematically investigate the population trends of many different wildlife species across the region,” Dr Luskin said.
“Then we tested if all species showed consistent trends and if similar parks retained similar species.
“Remarkably, we found no two forests currently possess the same group of wildlife compared to thousands of years ago.”
Dr Luskin said the research offered an opportunity to shape the future of nature.
“These results provide hope for wildlife in forests previously considered too far degraded or too close to cities,” he said.
“Now we’re exploring new conservation strategies for these surprising places.” (ANI)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)
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