Time Running Out to Save Rhinos, Elephants, Other Large Herbivores From Extinction

All the news that’s fit to fix for Monday, May 4.

An armed ranger stands near a white rhinoceros at Imire: Rhino and Wildlife Conservation park in Zimbabwe in 2014. (Photo: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

May 4, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

Six in 10 species of large herbivores—such as elephants, hippos, gorillas, and rhinos—are vanishing fast, reports The Washington Post, driven to the brink of extinction as people take over their habitats and hunt them for meat and to supply the black market in wildlife products.

The consequences are profound because these species are the “ecosystem engineers” of their lands, contributing much more to the environment than many people realize—from scattering seeds in their manure to opening up grasslands.

According to newly published research, their disappearance means that “ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.”

The study’s authors call for wealthier populations to fund antipoaching and conservation efforts in poorer nations, along with health and other community-building programs. They write: “A sense of justice and development is essential to ensure that local populations can benefit fairly from large herbivore protection and thereby have a vested interest in it.”

In other news...

Social justice: Smith College, historically an all-female school, will begin accepting transgender applicants for the class of 2019. (via The Associated Press)

Civil liberties: The FBI delivered 5,000 all-but-blank pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for information on its Stingray program, which erects fake cell-phone towers to scoop up data from the phones carried by passersby. (via boing boing)

Food: There are several uncertainties in megacorp Tyson Foods’ recent announcement that it will “strive” to stop using human antibiotics in its broiler chickens. For one, the government does not oversee antibiotic use on farms—meaning we’ll have to take Tyson’s word for it. (via Civil Eats)

Human rights: An all-volunteer citizen initiative called Sea Watch is monitoring the waters between Malta and the Libyan coast for boats in distress in response to the failure of European governments to prevent hundreds of drowning deaths in the Mediterranean Sea in recent months. (via Global Voices Online)