Animals play a fundamental role in maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystem. Yet, animals, on the other hand, can also lose his ecological character and become dangerous for the environment.
This happens when the balance of nature is altered. Let’s take a closer look at ten animal species that have a strong impact on the environment.
Big animals with big appetites. It’s no surprise that elephants have a major impact on our ecosystem. They are the largest and most powerful land animals in the world. To find food, they roam vast territories, leaving obvious traces of their passage: they break branches, uproot bushes and cut down entire trees. They consume about 150 kg of vegetables per day. Usually, because of the vastness of the feeding grounds, nature is able to repair the damage caused by their passage. But when man gets his hands on it, with fences, cultivated land, invading living spaces and restricting the “freedom” of these splendid animals, even the most natural behavior, such as the search for food, can radically change a landscape.
Let’s remember that Exodus (Ex 10,1-20) recalls the 10 plagues that struck Egypt, the eighth of which was terrible: the invasion of locusts, which still have a devastating power today. The swarms can cover hundreds of square kilometers (up to 500 km per day) and are made up of billions of locusts. A real plague that manifests itself in the presence of particular conditions and that leads the grasshoppers, usually solitary, to aggregate to their own species. It is the particularly heavy rains caused by climatic anomalies that serve as a vehicle for these insects. A medium-sized swarm can quickly strip entire fields of vegetation while consuming 2,500 people in one day. How to fight against this plague? Until now, very harmful pesticides have also been used for other insect species and for this reason the FAO Locust Information Service is experimenting in some regions with metarhisium, a fungus that could represent an eco-pesticide for locusts.
These large starfish (Acanthaster planci) get their name from the long, venomous spines that cover their entire body. They are mainly nocturnal and live near coral formations feeding on polyps and the cenosarco of madrepores. When the species gathers in groups of more than twenty specimens, it is able to put the ecosystem of the coral reef to a severe test. Each individual is, in fact, capable of destroying five to ten m2 of barrier in one year. It feeds on adult corals and inhibits the growth of younger ones. The overpopulation that has characterized the species for the last ten years seems to be due to three causes: pollution, the decrease of its predators due to fishing such as the Charonia tritonis, a gastropod mollusk, and finally its extremely fast life cycle and reproduction.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, intensive cattle farming is responsible for 18% of total greenhouse gases. Cattle emit a large amount of methane through their burping and flatulence. Cattle farming is also responsible for deforestation around the world, especially in the Amazon rainforest. Due to the increasing demand for food by humans, livestock in many parts of the world are grazing intensively, which significantly reduces biodiversity.
The common carp feeds on the seabed, uprooting and disturbing submerged vegetation and modifying the environment in which it lives. They are particularly harmful when introduced into a foreign environment, becoming an extremely invasive species. The United States and Australia spend millions of dollars each year to control the common carp population.
Goats can also have a profound effect on the environment, especially in areas where they are not native. They are voracious herbivores that eat scrubland and general vegetation with relish, turning entire forests into grasslands if left unchecked. The problem has become very important in Australia, as well as in other islands where man has imported specimens of these animals. Goats are hardy creatures and are able to return easily to a wild existence.