HUMANS help make big fierce animals rare. We hunt them for many reasons: 1. they're killing our livestock
2. they eat our pets because we've moved into their natural habitat 3. pride and the need to assert one's "machismo" over the forces of nature. This one is incredibly disgusting, especially in so called "canned hunts." These hunts trap animals and put them in an enclosure, so that people can come and "hunt" them with a guarantee of a kill. 4. we want to sell parts of them: tusks/horns, heads, teeth, fur, etc. 5. unwarranted fear. We think they're going to hurt us, but really, if we leave them alone (sharks, bears, etc) and don't threaten their babies or food sources, they're fine letting us be.
Other anthropogenic causes of population declines for such animals: 1. Pollution: we kill off the smaller prey they eat with pesticides and other pollutants; that means they have less to eat = they die! 2. habitat destruction and fragmentation: when we build houses, roads or freeways, we break up their natural roaming areas. Then, it's harder for them to find mates and reproduce = death. Also, they get killed trying to cross roads by fast moving cars = death. Further, when the habitats are smaller, there's a smaller gene pool. You get inbreeding, which leads to poorer genes and higher susceptibility to diseases and environmental changes. One example of this is the cheetah: they're virtually identical genetically.
1. (a) Colinvaux, Paul A. (1979). Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare: an Ecologist’s Perspective (second law of thermodynamics, pgs. 27-28, 30-31, 33, 43, 193). Princeton University Press.
Colinvaux’s basic argument, which amounts to essentially verbal thermodynamics, is that each step in the food chain contains a certain energy amount in calories and that because one variation of the second law implies a degradation of available energy in any process, that would apply to the transmission of energy in the food chain.
In thermodynamics, available...
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