Survival of the fittest is often no longer the case, as humans defy the law of Darwin when hunting by focusing more on the stronger, larger prey, instead of taking down the younger and weaker. Be it for prestige or simply the matter of gaining more meat quicker, hunter often go for animals who are in the prime of their reproductive age.
And it’s not only them to be blamed. Conservation policies and traditions often tell fishermen, for example, to throw the young and small fish back into the waters, and only keep the mature, larger catch. While that may seem like a way to spare the young and allow them to keep the population going, it’s actually hurting future prospects, according to Chris Darimont.
As a conservation scientist at the University of Victoria and science director of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation in Canada, Darimont states that humans have the most destructive manner of hunting, and our growing intelligence along with advanced tools have turned us into “super predators”, as earlier reported.
The researchers studied data from over 2,000 predator and prey interactions, on both sea and land in order to determine how much of the adult prey is being hunted down each year. While wildlife predators focus on the weak and young prey, who are easier to catch, humans instead purposefully choose the stronger specimens.
In fact, we have become so evolved in our hunting techniques that we are now even the top predators’ biggest enemy. Humans kill all the top predators, such as lions, tigers or bears, 9.2 times more than they kill each other among their own species, which is likely due to competition. For us, however, is for the sake of nourishment in rare cases, and mostly sport.
When it comes to marine life, fishermen claim the lives of adult fishes 14.1 times more than other predators lurking within the waters. This could see to a drastic decline in population, as they are taking down the aquatic animals at a time where their size and age would provide more offspring.
The younger are more overlooked and the adults who are able to help their species keep up with our population’s needs are being caught into nets or fishing poles, instead of being thrown back. According to Darimont, some species of fishes have even adapted to laying eggs younger, which while useful in evolutionary terms, provides a smaller number of offspring.
Predators on land have also suffered a great deal in population for similar reasons. One in five carnivores are being wiped from the planet each year, due to the fact that they do not have the ability to reproduce fast enough to keep up with their mortality rates. It becomes far more difficult for them to adapt than others, such as fish, simply because they were not made to evolve as prey.
The author of the study presented the option of possibly alternating between the type of prey humans hunt, if there is no possible way of limiting ourselves to the young and weak altogether. It has worked for the ecosystem for millions of years, and were are reportedly disrupting the balance by cutting them off at the reproductive source.
Image source: ewallpapers.eu