Weekly Current Affairs

Dwindling prey bad news for big cats, wolves, says study [Biodiversity]

  • The world’s top land carnivores such as tigers, lions and jaguars are coming under threat as their prey dwindles in number, according to the fi rst global study of feeding patterns.
  • There are only 17 four-legged predators — big cats, wolves and wild dogs — that weigh more than 15 kilos and whose diet is at least 70 per cent meat.
  • Collectively, these fearsome carnivores feed on nearly 500 species, ranging in size from mice to buffaloes.
  • But a quarter of these are themselves listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which tracks the health of the planet’s fauna and flora.
  • The knock-on effect means that 11 of the top predators face varying degrees of extinction, including lions, jaguars, clouded and snow leopards, tigers, and the critically-endangered red wolf.
  • All but two of the 17 — the grey wolf and the Eurasian Lynx — are on the decline.
  • An expanding human footprint has also reduced the vast areas these wide-ranging hunters need to thrive — on average, it takes about 10,000 kilos of prey to support 90 kilos of carnivore biomass, whether a scrawny dingo or a strapping lion.