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Recent research by Food and Agricultural Organization (FOA) revealed that wild animals are increasingly at threat from the escalation and extension of agricultural production (Freemark and Boutin 68). An increase in agricultural activities has subjected a majority of the wild animals to the danger of extinction.
Besides, some agricultural activities have led to the emergence of new pathogens that subject wild animals to health hazards. Indeed, continued encroachment into the wildlife habitat by farmers has led to human-wildlife conflicts. This paper will discuss the adverse effects of agriculture on wild animals.
Intensified agricultural activities have resulted in unfair competition between wild animals. In Hawaii, farmers introduced mongoose, which has threatened the survival of the Nene goose. The need to eliminate rats in sugar cane plantations led to farmers introducing mongoose in Hawaii. What the farmers did not consider is that while rats feed at night, the mongoose hunts for its food during the day (Freemark and Boutin 71).
Consequently, it was hard for the mongoose to catch rats as they only came out at night. It implied that the mongoose had to look for alternative sources of food. The only alternative left was to feed on eggs from nesting birds. The most affected bird was the Nene goose. Prior to the introduction of the mongoose in Hawaii, it was easy to find a Nene goose in the wild. The birds pervaded the entire Hawaii state. Currently, there are under 1000 Nene goose left in the state.
Destruction of Forest by Wildfire
Cases of fire outbreaks are common, particularly in forests that are adjacent to agricultural lands. Some farmers start fires deliberately to scare away wild animals. On the other hand, some farmers trigger fire inadvertently. The fire affects the natural habitat of some animals leading to their displacement or even death. One of the animals that are facing extinction due to fire triggered by farmers is the Karner blue butterfly. The butterfly depends on wild lupine for survival. The wild lupine is “a plant that grows in pine and oak barrens in the Northeast and Midwest” (Freemark and Boutin 72).
Farmers trigger forest fires that destroy the wild lupine making it hard for Karner blue butterfly to multiply. The increase in cases of fire outbreaks has led to the population of Karner blue butterfly going down tremendously. Apart from the fire outbreak, the farmers also use pesticides that hinder the growth of wild lupine. Agricultural activities have resulted in the population of Karner blue butterfly dropping by 99% over the last twenty years (Freemark 100).
Discharge of Effluent into Coastal Waters
An enormous volume of agricultural effluent finds its way into coastal waters every year. Whenever there are floods, the water sweeps a lot of chemicals from farms into the ocean. The chemicals have adverse effects on different aquatic animals. West Indian manatee is among the animals that are affected by agricultural effluent. The manatee lives in canals, estuaries, rivers, and saltwater bays (Freemark 104).
When agricultural waste is swept into the rivers or estuaries, it destabilizes the water temperature, therefore affecting the survival of manatees. Besides, the manatees ingest harmful chemicals from agricultural waste. The discharge of agricultural waste into rivers has changed the reproduction rate of the manatees in Florida (Freemark 104). Presently, there are less than 2,000 manatees in Florida, and the number is expected to go down.
Displacement of Wild Animals
Habitat obliteration, disintegration, and dilapidation as a result of agricultural development have significantly altered the nature of Great Plains and, concurrently, the wildlife that inhabits there (Freemark 107). Initially, the region comprised over 325 million acres covered with vegetation. Today, only one percent of the region is covered with vegetation. The rest of the land has been converted into farms.
Before the introduction of agriculture, the Great Plains were inhabited by different species of wild animals. They included the deer, wolves, black bears, waterfowl, and different species of migratory birds, among others. The majority of the wetlands were converted into farms leaving no breeding ground for waterfowl. Today, there are no waterfowl in the Great Plains (McLaughlin and Mineau 204).
Depletion of Water System
Farming near water catchment areas has resulted in the depletion of water systems. The increase in agricultural activities has made most rivers uninhabitable for a majority of the freshwater animals. In New Zealand, farming activities pose a threat to over twenty-nine types of freshwater fish. Indeed, 90% of the indigenous freshwater fish are at risk of extinction due to agriculture (McLaughlin and Mineau 210). The New Zealand government is calling on farmers and conservationists to work together in the bid to protect the endangered species.
An increase in agricultural activities has led to environmental changes that pose immense dangers to wild animals. The pesticides and other harmful chemicals used on farms are swept into rivers and oceans, killing aquatic animals. Besides, most wild animals have been displaced as farmers continue to encroach into areas reserved for wildlife. Destruction of forests by wildfire has made it hard for some animals to reproduce. In some regions, farmers have introduced exotic animals leading to unfair competition.
Freemark, Kathryn and Celine Boutin. “Impacts of Agricultural Herbicides Use on Terrestrial Wildlife in Temperate Landscapes: A Review with Special Reference to North America.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 52.3 (2012): 67-91. Print.
Freemark, Kathryn. “Assessing Effects of Agriculture on Terrestrial Wildlife: Developing a Hierarchical Approach for the US EAPA.” Landscape and Urban Planning 31.3 (2011): 99-115. Print.
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McLaughlin, Alison and Pierre Mineau. “The Impact of Agricultural Practices on Biodiversity.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 55.3 (2010): 201-212. Print.