Kate on Conservation

What is the Connection Between Wildlife and the Ecosystem?

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Our planet is simply a giant ecosystem, made up of smaller ones. Sometimes, under the constant threats and pressures that come hand-in-hand with facing a climate crisis and major global biodiversity loss, one can be forgiven for losing sight of where it all began — and in fact, where it all ends. This guest blog post comes from Takudza Mabeza from International Anti-Poaching Foundation takes a look at the connection between wildlife and the ecosystem — and why we must strive to protect both.

The Importance Of Protecting Ecosystems

Earth. It’s the place we call home. In recent years, more people than ever have come to realize that it needs protecting. In fact, there is a growing interest in sustainability and the green movement has taken hold. There is also more interest in protecting not only the planet and its natural resources including its air, water and land, but its many species of wildlife.

palm tree in the Babonneau rainforest

While this includes helping endangered and threatened species continue to survive, wildlife conservation isn’t limited to this goal. Instead, it recognizes the impact that different kinds of wildlife have on their environment, and vice versa. Understanding the synergistic relationship between the two can help spur interest in the importance of protecting both.

How wildlife fits into an ecosystem

Every species of wildlife exists as part of its unique ecosystem, or habitat. A habitat must include basic survival needs — which involves water, food, space and shelter — for wildlife to exist. If any of these four needs is limited or in scarce supply, that will affect the wild animals that live there.

All of the elements of an ecosystem — the plants, animals, water and land — are interrelated. That means changes to one element affect the other parts of the ecosystem. If certain plants die, for example, the animals that eat that plant may also die or be reduced in number if they can’t find other food. If those animals die, the number of predators feeding on them will also be affected.  

Rhino photography by Kate on Conservation

A similar result occurs if different types of wildlife are affected. For example, if the foxes of an ecosystem are over-hunted and decrease in number, the animals on which they typically prey — e.g., squirrels and rabbits — will increase in number. Too many squirrels and rabbits will eat more plants, and that throws the ecosystem out of balance.

The Earth as an umbrella ecosystem

While it may be easy to discount the impact these kinds of changes may have on a broader scale, the fact is, Earth is one huge ecosystem made of many smaller ones. People can help safeguard the individual ecosystems by protecting the wildlife that lives there as well as shielding the natural resources wildlife needs to survive. There are numerous methods to do so.

The accompanying resource describes ways in which people can help maintain the delicate balance of ecosystems throughout the world.

About the author

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Takudza Mabeza is Field Communications Officer for International Anti-Poaching Foundation. His role is to uncover and capture stories straight from the field, and use visual media to bring the impact of IAPF’s work to the world.

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