All around the globe, as residential and industrial sprawl swallows up unprotected natural areas at an unabated pace, wild animals and their habitats are almost always the losers. Here are eight places where humans and certain animal species are clashing—sometimes fatally—over territory, chronicled by discovery.com.
1. Mumbai and Sanjay Gandi National Park
Mumbai, India’s most populous city, sprang up around Sanjay Gandhi National Park‘s 40 square miles. Between 1986 and 2010, leopards caused 92 deaths in the park and its outskirts, according to Mumbaikars for SGNP, a park supporters’ organization. Garbage-eating feral dogs also attract leopards into the settlements around the park. The dogs make easy prey for the big cats, compared to the park’s fleet-footed chital deer.
2. Nairobi and Nairobi National Park
Only 4 miles from Nairobi’s center, Nairobi National Park hosts the full array of East African wildlife, including elephants, African buffalo, lions, leopards, rhinos and giraffes. Electric fences help keep the animals in the park and somewhat safe from poachers, but they also restrict wildlife movement. In the past, the herds of herbivores in the park would migrate to grasslands further south during seasonal rains. Now, Nairobi’s expansion threatens to cut off their migration route.
3. Miami and Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park forms the southern fifth of a vast wetland ecosystem that runs from Orlando to south of Miami. For the past century, the area has been under siege by humans. In 1920, only 30,000 people lived in Miami. By 1950, the population had ballooned to 250,000, and today, the number is 5.5 million. The building boom, along with sugarcane plantations, destroyed fragile Everglades habitats and damaged the wilderness that remained. Floridians and wildlife conflict when animals move back into areas that were formerly wild, such as alligators on golf courses.
4. Rio de Janeiro and Tijuca Forest
In the heart of Rio de Janeiro stands the famous statue of Cristo Redentor, atop a peak in the Tijuca forest. Tijuca Forest National Park preserves more than 12.4 square miles of forest from encroachment from this constantly growing city, including the last remnants of Atlantic rainforest in the world. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Tijuca suffered heavy deforestation by sugar and coffee plantations, resulting in the destruction of Rio’s fresh water supply. In 1861, the area was replanted, resulting in the park of today. Rio will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, with many of the events to be held in Barra da Tijuca, a residential area near the forest. Construction in this area will unquestionably increase strains on the Tijuca Forest’s environment.
5. Los Angeles and Santa Monica Mountains
Like Rio and Mumbai, Los Angeles also swallowed a wilderness area. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area provides a barrier between downtown L.A. and the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, but the highways and habitats of humans also serve as a barrier to animals trying to migrate into the mountains from the rest of the California wilderness. Mountain lions, also called cougars or pumas, live in the Santa Monica Mountains, and face threats from poaching, vehicle collisions and competition with each other. Male mountain lions need approximately 200 square miles of territory, but are often killed when they encounter freeways.
6. Lake Tahoe
The environment around Lake Tahoe, America’s largest Alpine lake, has been degraded by construction and development to serve the tourist industry. More than 2 million visitors per year are the cause of severe air pollution and road dust, contributing to the increasing murkiness of Lake Tahoe.
7. Gary, IN and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
In 1966, when Congress officially designated the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a wildlife preserve, the region had already been logged and polluted by coal power plants and steel mills in nearby Chicago and Gary, IN. The National Park Service has worked over the ensuing decades to fight invasive species and restore native ecosystems, including habitats for endangered species, such as the Indiana bat.
8. Pensacola, FL and Gulf Islands National Seashore
For sea turtles nesting in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the lights from coastal cities such as Pensacola, FL are not only disorienting but often deadly. After nesting, mother turtles use the light of the moon reflecting off the ocean to guide them back to the water, as do their hatchlings. When urban lights overpower the ocean, the turtles go inland and die of dehydration or are killed by dogs, humans, automobiles, or other threats. In the Gulf Islands National Seashore, sea turtle nests are marked and protected by National Park Service workers. After BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, many sea turtle eggs and hatchlings were evacuated to the Atlantic coast of Florida.