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Armed conflicts have an underappreciated impact on animals.

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Monday, 9th August 2021

According to a study, almost 75% of terrestrial animal and avian species worldwide experienced violent conflicts within their ranges from 1989 to 2018.

The study's authors advocate for a re-evaluation of species conservation assessments, with a focus on conflict hazards.

Because conflicts operate as threat multipliers for species threatened by habitat loss, overexploitation, and human disturbances, attention to conflict resiliency in conservation efforts is critical.

According to new research, the effects of armed conflicts on wildlife around the world remain underappreciated, prompting conservation strategies for a wide range of species to pay more attention to conflict resistance.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India (WCS-India), the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and Panthera discovered that between 1989 and 2018, at least 4291 (78 percent) terrestrial mammal species and 9056 (85 percent) terrestrial bird species experienced armed conflicts within their ranges.

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Approximately one-fifth of these species had widespread conflict, implying that conflicts spanned at least half of their geographic ranges. Conflicts were prevalent and lasted 15 years or longer for roughly 225 mammal and 390 avian species (615 species).

In contrast to the 615 species highlighted in the study as being exposed to both extensive and regular conflicts, worldwide species evaluations such as the IUCN Red List recognise only 107 species (87 mammals, 20 birds) as being threatened by "war, civil disturbance, and military exercises."

“Studies in India and around the world show that areas that have experienced conflict are more likely to experience conflict again. As a result, places like the disputed India-Pakistan border, violence in Jharkhand, ethnopolitical conflict in western Assam, and Manas are all vulnerable now and in the future,” research co-author Abishek Harihar told Mongabay-India.

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program's Georeferenced Event Dataset provided information on armed conflicts. The IUCN Red List, BirdLife International, and the Handbook of the Birds of the World provided spatial data on known geographic ranges of terrestrial mammal and avian species.

The study discovered that conflicts were more common and pervasive among species categorised as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Most of the world's mammals and birds are already threatened by habitat loss, overexploitation, and human disturbances, and we show that these threats occur more frequently in conflict-affected species than in non-conflict-affected species, highlighting that conflicts act as threat multipliers,” Harihar explained.

The IUCN focuses on armed conflict and nature in its independent study Conflict and Conservation, stating that 70 percent of birds, animals, and amphibians have current ranges that coincide with armed conflict events.

It is revealed that across all species, the average number of armed conflict occurrences contained in a species range is 2169, according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

It asserts, among other things, that conservation must continue even in war-torn places, with the safety of frontline environmental defenders and the nature they are safeguarding in mind.

Conservation investment raises the prospects of peace, and improving natural resource management can contribute to environmental peacebuilding.


The News Talkie Bureau



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