The Guardian reports:
So-called bush encroachment has transformed millions of hectares of Namibia’s open rangeland into nearly impenetrable thicket and hammered its cattle industry. Beef output is down between 50 and 70% compared with the 1950s, causing losses of up to $170m a year to the country’s small economy.
Bush encroachment can also be bad news for cheetahs, which evolved to use bursts of extreme speed to run down prey in open areas. Low-slung thorns and the locked-open eyes of predators in “kill mode” are a nasty combination. Conservationists have found starving cheetahs that lost their sight after streaking through bush encroached habitats in pursuit of fleet footed food…
Lab research shows that many savanna trees grow significantly faster as atmospheric CO2 rises, and a new analysis of satellite images indicates that so-called ‘CO2 fertilisation’ has caused a large increase in plant growth in warm, arid areas worldwide.
Although poor land management is undoubtedly partly to blame for bush encroachment, increased atmospheric CO2 seems to be upsetting many savanna ecosystems’ vegetal balance of power in favour of trees and shrubs.
If increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing climate change and also driving bush encroachment that results in blind cheetahs, should blind, starving cheetahs be a new symbol of climate change, to join polar bears whose Arctic sea ice hunting grounds are melting?