A study released last month found that hundreds of mammals, 301 species to be exact, are currently experiencing an enormous collapse in their population sizes and habits around the world.
The analysis showed that nearly all of these species are in developing countries where major coexisting threats include, bush meat hunting, agricultural expansion, competition with livestock, deforestation and human encroachment.
The study found that the continuous decline of these animals suggest that critical ecological and socio-economic services that they provide will be lost, which could lead to their ecosystems being changed irrevocably.
So what are the scientists proposing to try and save these animals from immediate extinction?
Well, in addition to providing legal protection, education, and changing international policy, they suggest providing alternative foods for the surrounding communities, specifically those that are killing wildlife for their meat to consume and sell.
A few excerpts from the report:
"Although justifications for wild meat harvest in terms of food for impoverished communities must be weighed seriously, it is critical to acknowledge that the terms ‘protein’ and ‘meat’ are not synonymous. Historically, many cultures from around the world obtained the vast majority of protein calories from plants and not animals—either wild or domestic."
"Consumption of high-protein plant foods such as soy, pulses, cereals and tubers can satisfy protein requirements that are associated with fewer environmental impacts than livestock or wild meat, while yielding significant human health benefits. In some areas, using traditionally grown protein-rich plant foods rather than wild meat as a primary protein source for humans could help mitigate the wildlife crisis if cropland is available or plant-based food products can be imported. "
"Furthermore, novel sources of protein and miconutrient-rich plant foods such as microalgae or seaweed could also be environmentally sustainable and useful in overcoming unsustainable hunting, hunger and malnutrition."
The researched concluded the section with the following statement, "Ultimately, reducing global consumption of meat is a key step necessary to reduce both negative impacts of human hunting on wild animals and environmental problems associated with livestock production. In addition to reducing meat consumption, improving cropping efficiencies, curtailing tropical forest conversion to agriculture and curbing food wastes would sustainably help improve food security while protecting the environment."
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental devastation and species extinction. The very best thing you can do for wildlife and their habitat is to take meat off your plate. Try out our FREE 30-day vegan challenge today.