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War on wildlife

War on wildlife

Eighty-one per cent of major armed conflicts from 1950 to 2000 occurred in countries that contain one of the 34 identified biodiversity hotspots, reveals a new study by Russell Mittermeier and Michael Hoffmann published in Conservation Biology.


These areas contain some of the most biologically-diverse and threatened wildlife including more than half of all known plant species and more than 42 per cent of all vertebrates. Most of these countries are also extremely economically backward which puts wildlife and forest protection at a greater disadvantage. Madagascar’s biodiversity, for example, is highly threatened due to violent conflict. Timber harvesting funded wars in Liberia, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the study, which adds that refugees from wars often depend on hunting and other forest resources to survive.


The authors recommended that conservation groups and the international community must work with “military, reconstruction and humanitarian programmes in conflict zones.”


April 2009


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