Thursday, March 5, 2009

Endangered animals - Antelopes

Antelopes are beautiful animals that have wide variety of habitats such as woodland, forest, savannas, grassland plains, and marshes, though several species can be found in mountains and rocky outcrops, and few even in deserts. There are about 90 species, most of which live in Africa of which 25 are considered endangered by an expert opinion. The latest study showed that about a quarter of the world's antelope species is under threat of extinction due to excessive hunting and human damage to their habitats, all the way from the Sahara to Tibet.

Condition is almost critical with 62 percent of antelope species experiencing decline in population. Hunt is big problem but not as big as losing habitats. As the human population grows people need more room for their homes and farms so they convert available land to crops while cities and roads are encroaching more on grasslands. Climate change and global warming aren't helping either. Most of antelope species have their habitats in developing countries and many of these countries still haven't developed ecological conscience which is making things even worse.

Addax is one of the most endangered antelope species. Total addax population is estimated at less than 300 individuals.

There is only one antelope species whose numbers were rising (South African springbok) while on the other hand many other antelope species have experienced tremendous decline in population (for instance addax, a large Saharan antelope, experienced decline in population of 80 percent over the past two decades with total population estimated at less than 300 individuals, most of them in Niger).

Unfortunately antelopes aren't only mammal species threatened with extinction. Combination of global warming and loss of habitats is lethal for many animal species, so it was really no surprise when last year International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that a quarter of all mammals, from elephants to shrews, were under threat. And the worst part is that things do not look as they will soon improve. In fact, we seem to be heading to a real environmental catastrophe.

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