We make think that “man” sits atop the food chain but we would be a quick snack for many of the world’s largest predators…still, our activities impact the big meat eaters leading to a  new report out Thursday (July 14th) said that falling numbers of large predators like lions, sharks and wolves is disrupting the Earth's ecosystem.

The research by scientists from six countries said that the Earth is in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, but unlike previous ones, the current mass extinction is entirely driven by human activity, involving changes in land use, climate, pollution, hunting, fishing and poaching, and is focused on large predators. As examples, the report cites:

  • Fewer cougars in Utah led to an explosion of the deer population. The deer in turn ate more vegetation, which changed the path of local streams and reduced biodiversity.
  • Lions and leopards being killed by poachers in Africa has led to a surge in the numbers of olive baboons, who are transmitting intestinal parasites to humans.
  • Industrial whaling in the 20th century led to a change in the diet of killer whales, who began to eat more sea lions, seals and otters, dramatically reducing their numbers.