THE IMPACT OF WAR ON ANIMALS
Wildlife populations are threatened by armed conflicts. Bombs and landmines kill animals, but the greatest losses are from encroachment upon their natural habitats. Wildlife populations are exposed to human and livestock diseases by the movement of human populations during war, whether traveling armed forces or refugees. Wildlife habitats are damaged by the pollution that occurs during armed conflicts. During the Gulf War, for example, a large amount of oil was spilled into the Gulf, threatening many bird species. During war, poaching becomes more commonplace, both by armed forces and refugees. The disruption to their habitats causes some animal populations to leave the area. Others that do not have that option may face extinction when conflict threatens.
Domestic animals feel the negative effects of war as well. Domestic livestock may lose access to veterinary care, allowing diseases previously controlled or treatable to spread rapidly and cause much damage. They are also susceptible to the food and water shortages that afflict their owners. Animals kept in zoos are distressed when armed conflict reaches them. They may lack food, water, and medicines, and their artificial habitats may be damaged or no longer properly maintained. Zoo animals also may be killed during a conflict to prevent their possible escape.
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