Every year, thousands of wild animals, including tigers, leopards, bears, jackals, and foxes, are killed because they are perceived as a threat to the livestock industry. The majority of these killings go unreported in India and could very well run into the millions every year.
But that’s just the beginning. A new article is highlighting the ill effects of our meat-heavy diets on endangered species in Tanzania.
Vice News reports:
Tanzania has 21.3 million cows, accounting for 82 percent of rural livestock, according to the country's Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development (MSFD). That count came four years ago, and according to the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), cattle populations have increased steadily at a rate of 5 percent a year over the last ten years.
Cows are depleting topsoil and destroying natural vegetation at an alarming rate. This increased population poses a serious problem for the country’s wildlife, which includes elephants, zebras, and rhinos.
“But while poaching remains a grave threat to Tanzania's endangered species, large-scale cattle farming is set to decimate wildlife corridors and encroach on the few national parks where these animals reside,” the article explains.
India is witnessing the same scenario. The rising demand for dairy and meat is leading to larger herds of cattle, and due to lack of grazing grounds, cattle farmers are encroaching on reserve forests, national parks, and sanctuaries. This not only results in depletion of vegetation, cover, and natural habitat; it also poses the hazard of disease transmission to wild bovines and other herbivores. There are recorded instances in which diseases like bovine tuberculosis and foot-and-mouth disease have been transferred to wild animals such as the gaur and water buffalo.
Additionally, the unchecked use of antibiotics, hormones, and painkillers on cattle, coupled with poor management of the waste generated by the meat industry, has led to the leaching of dangerous drugs into the food chain. This has directly threatened many species with extinction. Take, for example, the dwindling vulture population; vultures have died after feeding on carcasses of cattle treated with a drug that causes renal failure in the birds.
Obviously, cows themselves are victims of this cruel industry and are just as worthy of compassion as the wildlife threatened by their exploitation for beef.
Your food choices hold tremendous power to curb species extinction, animal suffering on factory farms, and serious human health risks.
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