The Atlantic

When Humans War, Animals Die

A new study finds a strong relationship between armed conflict and the decline of Africa’s large animals.
Source: Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters

In 1977, two years after declaring independence from Portugal, Mozambique erupted into civil war. Over the next 15 years, the violent conflict claimed at least a million lives—and that was just the humans.

Government troops and resistance fighters also slaughtered their way through the wildlife in the nation’s renowned Gorongosa National Park, once touted as a natural paradise. Thousands of elephants were hunted for their ivory, which was sold to buy arms and supplies. Zebras, wildebeest, and buffalo were killed for meat. Around 90 percent of the park’s large mammals were shot or died of starvation.

“They caused almost totalecologist at Yale University who started working at Gorongosa in 2013. “I wondered if that was a one-off, or emblematic of a wider trend.”

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