The Physical Environment
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Earth Biomes

Digging Deeper: Human Activities and The Tropical Forests

Species Endangerment in the Tropical Forests

 Habitat encroachment and destruction have been a primary cause of declining animal and plant species, threatening many with extinction. For example, habitat encroachment and sport hunting has led to the rapid decline of the Bengal tiger and are considered a threaten species. Solitary animals, tigers can weigh up to 500 pounds and measure nine feet in length. The main diet of the tiger consists of deer, antelope, and wild pig.

Figure DD.5 Sumatran Tiger
(Image courtesy USFWS)
tiger_FAO_20041.jpg (12327 bytes)

Logging and agriculture in the densely populated countries of southeast Asia have literally squeezed the tiger out of its home. Human encroachment on the tiger's habitat has led to more frequent conflicts between tigers and humans. However, human fatalities from tigers are a result of injured or sick animals to weak to hunt wild animals.

Sport hunting and killing to use body parts for traditional medicines since 1900 has significantly contributed to the decline of the tiger. In the early 1900's it was estimated that 100,000 tigers roamed Asia. In 1900, approximately 40,000 lived in India. By the 1960's this number fell to 4,000. By the early seventies fewer that 2,000 remained in India. Recognizing the potential loss of their national treasure, intensive conservation efforts by the Indian government and the world community has doubled their numbers in recent years. The world-wide population of tigers is estimated to be 5,100 to 7,500 individuals (World Wildlife Fund).

Illegal hunting to support the bush meat trade has taken a devastating toll on animal species. The bushmeat trade ranks among the greatest threats to tropical wildlife according to some environmentalists. Research has shown that increased poaching in Ghana has resulted in significant declines in 41 wild animal species. This research speculates that the bushmeat trade has grown partly in response to over fishing off West Africa by foreign and domestic industrial fleets. With dwindling resources for protein, people turn to the forest for food.

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For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
2006. Date visited.  ../title_page.html

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