Habitat Loss. Key Stage 1 & 2. Aims and Objectives. What is a habitat? Find out more at

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1 Key Stage 1 & 2 Aims and Objectives Understand what a habitat is Understand the important role of plants and animals within a habitat Focus on issues that cause habitats to decline Establish how we can repair or conserve local habitats Using a world map study some of the projects that DSWF is involved with, focusing on local cultures and how much natural habitat remains What is a habitat? Habitat is defined as: the natural environment in which a species lives. A habitat is a place for plants and animals to live. An animal needs five things to survive in its habitat: Food Water Shelter Air A place to raise its young and behave naturally Different animals require different habitats. A snow leopard is happiest in the mountains of Central Asia but an earth worm needs to be under ground, in moist soil. When animals and plants share the same habitat, a community is formed and when this community interacts with the non-living world an ecosystem is formed. Animals and plants naturally compete for food and water and in order to survive they create their own niches. A habitat niche is the space where an animal lives and all animals all have their own job within these niches. Giraffes can live in the same area as gazelles because they eat different plants and don t compete with each other. Dung beetles bury the faeces of these animals and lay their eggs in it. The hatching grubs feed on the faeces. The buried faeces also fertilize plants, which in turn feeds the gazelle and giraffe. Each plant and animal has its own niche in the ecological community, and is important in some way to the survival of the other. Habitats usually contain a variety of living organisms: consumers (animals), producers (plants), or decomposers (fungi). Consumers can be herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. Herbivores are called primary consumers because they feed directly on producers. Carnivores feed on other consumers; omnivores eat both plants and animals. Animals are seldom completely carnivorous or herbivorous. Some carnivores, such as bears and foxes, will occasionally eat plants and herbivores will sometimes eat small insects or grubs as well.

2 Habitat groups (biomes) The Earth and its habitats are undergoing constant change. Habitats which share a similar climate and vegetation are called biomes. The main habitat groups (biomes) are: In different parts of the world, the same biome may contain different species, but will contain similar life forms. For example, trees are the dominant forms of the rain forest, no matter where the rainforest is located

3 The Problem Some habitat loss occurs as a result of natural phenomena such as fire, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions which we are unable to control. However the expanding human population is responsible for the destruction and degradation of huge areas of habitat. There are seven billion people living on the planet all demanding resources and land for building. The human population continues to rise, putting rising plants and animals under constant threat. Biodiversity loss caused by habitat fragmentation and degradation is one of the major environmental concerns facing us today. Habitats can be destroyed, degraded or fragmented by natural events, or by humans causing fires, clearing land for building, farming, mining, industry, pollution and climate change Habitat destruction is a major threat to species impacting 86% of threatened birds, 86% of threatened mammals and 88% of threatened amphibians million hectares) of forests are destroyed each year (30 hectares a minute). The highest rates of deforestation are in Africa, Asia and South America. Human introduction of cattle, sheep, goats, dogs and cats into natural environments creates competition for space and food, causing some species to search for new habitats Air, water and land pollution all cause habitat degradation Climate change is causing both destruction and degradation of habitats. Species migrate to seek new habitats. Global warming has resulted in tigers moving to higher altitudes and mosquitoes are now more widespread.

4 The Solution Research to identify key habitats and find out which species are under threat is essential in order to plan effective conservation programmes. This involves collecting data over several years and looking for patterns and clues to determine what the threats are how they might develop in the future. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) helps to identify key habitats. The rate and extent of habitat loss must be carefully monitored over time. Funds are limited so conservationists have to decide which habitats are in the greatest need of protection (key habitats).some areas, such as the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and South-east Asia, are rich in biodiversity (contain a wide variety of plant and animal species) and are the focus of conservation efforts. Expand and monitor Protected areas. Protected areas may be large or small and have varying degrees of protection from a National Park or Strict Nature Reserve to a Managed Resource Protected Area where the natural resources are managed in a sustainable way. National Parks need to be monitored and protected by law. Rangers and guards must be employed to patrol the area and may be armed where poaching is a threat to wildlife. In cases of habitat fragmentation where large areas of wildlife habitat have been cut up into fragments by roads and development the habitat may not be large or connected enough to support a species needs corridors may need to be created linking habitats

5 Case study: Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India Why is Kaziranga National Park so special? Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary was established in 1905, given National Park status in 1973 and in 1985 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kaziranga National Park is a key habitat with a rich biodiversity of wildlife, including a rich variety of birds, wild water buffalo, swamp deers, wild elephants, approximately 75% of the world's last surviving Indian one-horned rhinos, and approximately 100 Bengal tigers. All of these species need greater protection if they are to be saved from extinction but the tiger, as an apex predator, is, perhaps, the most urgent challenge. The tiger was voted the world s favourite animal and yet 3 out of the 9 subspecies are already extinct! Poaching is a major threat to tigers which are killed to satisfy the human demand for tiger body parts, particularly from China and the Far East, but habitat loss is still one of the main threats to their survival. Some of the best tiger habitats are found in India, with around 1,000 of the entire remaining tiger population. 100 of these are to be found in Kaziranga National Park so it is an important area to protect.

6 How Does DSWF Help? Habitat protection and restoration is a vital part of DSWFs project work. Species cannot be saved from extinction unless they can be provided with a suitable habitat which provides food, shelter and a mate. DSWF funding helps pay for the expansion and protection of key habitats such as: Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, the Mountain Zebra National Park in South Africa, Kafue National Park in Zambia and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. DSWF funds pay for education and awareness programmes to teach the importance of habitat and species protection. Tourism can bring much-needed money to poorer regions if the habitat is able to support a variety of wildlife. How Can You Help? Fundraise for DSWF and help preserve habitats for endangered wildlife Enter the Global Canvas Art and Poetry completion to raise awareness of the issues. LINK Protect your own environment. Do not remove plants or animals. Do not leave litter or allow your dog to foul the countryside. Design and put up posters to help preserve your local area Provide food for wildlife plant flowering plants, shrubs and trees to provide foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts. You could also provide a number of feeders. Supply water for wildlife it is essential to wildlife to have fresh water for drinking, bathing and reproduction. These could include bird baths, ponds, lakes or manmade wetland areas. Create cover for wildlife animals need a sheltered place to raise their young. Native vegetation, shrubs piles of branches and dead trees. Provide a sheltered safe place such as wildflower meadows or bushes that can be shared by many animals to lay eggs, roost or raise their young. Even a small patio or window box can be a haven for wildlife. Join wildlife organisations such as DSWF that directly support wildlife projects. Photos courtesy Aaranyak

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