A frag­ile habi­tat

Cli­mate change, habi­tat de­struc­tion and per­se­cu­tion make the An­des an in­creas­ingly haz­ardous place for much of its wildlife

World of Animals - - The Wildlife Of The Andes -

Sci­en­tists pre­dict that cli­mate change will cause high­alti­tude ar­eas like the An­des to warm faster than many other habi­tats. Cur­rently, there are many glaciers and snow­fields in the An­des, which act as huge wa­ter stores. Over the sum­mer pe­riod, melt­ing glacial wa­ters help re­plen­ish rivers and ground­wa­ter, which en­ables veg­e­ta­tion to grow and an­i­mals to sur­vive. How­ever, many ar­eas of the An­des now have sig­nif­i­cantly shrink­ing glaciers. This has had a no­tice­able im­pact on the lo­cal wildlife, such as an in­crease in the deaths of graz­ing an­i­mals like al­pacas. Nearly a fifth of fresh­wa­ter species in the re­gion are also now threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion, partly due to this is­sue.

Although less well known than the rugged moun­tain scenery, the An­des also has a lot of lush trop­i­cal rain­for­est. How­ever, log­ging, roads, oil ex­plo­ration and tourism de­vel­op­ments have all led to a huge re­duc­tion in tree cover. It is es­ti­mated that three-quar­ters of the rain­for­est cover of the An­des has now been de­stroyed.

Many of the rarer an­i­mals found in the An­des are also threat­ened due to di­rect hu­man per­se­cu­tion. The pet and zoo trades, poach­ing, bush­meat and tra­di­tional medicine are all po­ten­tial haz­ards for many of the an­i­mals liv­ing here.

Chilean flamin­gos spend their sum­mers at salt la­goons and soda lakes but mi­grate to lower wet­lands in win­ter. Their mi­gra­tion routes of­ten in­volve fly­ing through the An­des

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