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May 5, 2010

Grazing in the Grasslands

The grasslands of Asia's high steppes supports around 30 million livestock, many of which are grazed on a nomadic system (moving from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location).  However, over the past 50 years Russian and Chinese herders have been encouraged to adopt more sedentary grazing methods mixed with arable farming.  As a result, the fragile ecology of their grassland has been unbalanced, and around 75% has been degraded. 

The dry Patagonian steppe in Argentina hosts abundant wildlife, including the endemic wild llama, the "guanaco."  Human settlement is limited to ranches and a few small towns.  Its aridity leaves the Patagonian steppe vulnerable to overgrazing by sheep and goats, which are turning some areas into deserts. 

Once common across the Indian subcontinent, the great Indian bustard is now on the verge of extinction because livestock overgraze its grassland habitat.  Fewer than 700 birds are thought to survive. 

To find out more about whaat we are doing to our planet, check out Humans vs. Habitats.

To find out more effects of grazing cattle, check out The True Price of One Hamburger. 

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