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How Human Activity Is Changing Animal Migration Patterns

LINDA POON: ‘Zozu, like any other white stork in Europe, typically flies to southern Africa for the winter. Yet when researchers… tracked the bird’s path using a GPS logger in 2016, they found that he and a few others had skipped the grueling migration across the Sahara Desert. That year, the birds stopped, instead, in cities like Madrid, Spain, and Rabat, Morocco. Apparently, they had developed a taste for junk food, in particular the stuff that piles up in landfills along the migration route. When it comes to how human activity has altered animal behavior, this is one of the more glaring examples featured by geographer James Cheshire and visual designer Oliver Uberti in their latest book, “Where the Animals Go”… Rapid urban development means more barriers for animals, and more integration between wildlife and humans… Last year, researchers at the Nature Conservancy looked at the effect of manmade barriers like roads, farmland, and urban infrastructure. They found that in the U.S., only 41 percent of natural lands were connected enough for animals to move through… Despite proposals to build animal crossings after the fact, over- and underpasses have proven ineffective; they’re rarely used by the big cats. The risks go farther than just ending up as roadkill. The roads themselves become cages for mountain lion populations, isolating various groups and resulting in higher rates of inbreeding. This threatens their growth and survival as a whole’.  SOURCE…

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