Our activity calls for students to select an issue involving human-wildlife conflict, and develop a list of actions people could take to reduce or reverse the problem. This might be a great option for students to choose.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.
- Iraq has endured 40 years of nearly uninterrupted conflict. How have military combatants put the country’s wildlife at risk?
- Domestic animals, such as horses, have been used for target practice.
- Military leaders have burned forests and drained wetlands in order to eliminate possible enemy hideouts.
- “Entire populations of wild goat and wolves were whittled down to almost nothing by shellfire.”
- Trench networks have radically disrupted migration corridors for many species.
- Land mines maim and kill domestic animals as well as wild species.
- Retreating forces have dumped barrels of oil into wetlands in order to prevent their enemies from accessing these resources for fuel or profit.
- How are civilians putting Iraq’s wildlife at risk?
- “[A]mid a partial breakdown in civil society over the past decade, illegal hunting has also proliferated … Some impoverished residents of the Euphrates and Tigris valleys have taken to shooting protected bird species, hoping to supplement their diets at a time of economic hardship.”
- “For others, however, state paralysis has provided a welcome opportunity for unregulated sport, including trapping rabbits and shooting vultures. With entertainment limited in rural Iraq, many men are going hunting … ‘Everyone here has a gun, and when you have a gun, you shoot,’ says Ibrahim Hassan Al-Haramoozi, a tribal sheikh in rural Kirkuk Province.”
- What species have military and civilian forces put at risk in Iraq? Scroll through this photo gallery from the good folks at Nature Iraq for some help.
- The article mentions a “half-dozen types of cat, an impressive array of falcons, and several hundred species of fish.”
- Iraq’s tiny population of endangered Persian fallow deer are now regionally extinct and only survive in the wild in Iran and Israel.
- Wetland drainage devastated ecosystems associated with nothing less than the Garden of Eden—“otters, pelicans, striped hyenas, and river dolphins vanished, in most instances never to return.”
- The hunting of marbled ducks (mostly for food) has made the population a vulnerable species.
- goats, wolves, boars, rabbits, vultures, partridges, gazelles, turtles, mongooses, bats …
- Have any animals actually benefitted from the conflict in Iraq?
- Yes. “Protected by land mines, which have kept humans at bay, the Persian leopard is enjoying a mini-revival in the mountains along the Iran border.”
- Groups like Nature Iraq have made it their mission to “protect, restore, and preserve the environment.” Is the situation improving for Iraq’s wildlife?
Nat Geo: Protecting Earth’s Wildlife activity