Currently, many bovid species enjoy sufficient numbers to ensure their survival for years to come. The ICUN red list of threatened species considers 67 of the 143 species listed as “least concern.” This is in part due to the protection of large tracts of land that help offset the detrimental effects of habitat loss. For instance, wildebeest and gazelles in the African Serengeti were fewer than 500,000 during the 1960’s, but had grown to more than a million by the 1990’s. Parks like Serengeti National Park provide ecotourism opportunities and serve as a significant source of income to local economies. As a result, ecotourism enhances the monetary value of wildlife in these countries. In some areas, however, bovids continue to be over exploited for meat and habitat loss due to overgrazing by domestic species, farming, and logging is a significant threat to the persistence of many species. Bovids with limited range and unique habitat requirements are even more at risk. As of 2009, four species of bovid have gone extinct in the wild: aurochs, Queen of Sheebas gazelle, Saudi gazelle, and bluebuck. Scimitar-horned oryx is extinct in the wild and now lives only in zoos. Eight others species are "critically endangered". Saola antelope and bighorn sheep are listed as "endangered". Another 21 species are listed as vulnerable and 16 species are considered "near threatened". CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, lists 71 species under appendix 1 and 1 species under appendix 2.
Bovids are an important food sources for a number of different carnivores. As bovid populations decline, so too will those animals that depend on them. For example, the decline of cheetahs is often attributed habitat loss. However, cheetahs primarily prey upon small to medium sized bovids, specifically gazelle. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2 species of gazelle are extinct, while 10 more are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. In north Africa, as preferred prey species have declined, more and more cheetahs are turning to livestock for prey. Consequently, these cheetahs are then killed as pests. As a result, one of the major directives for cheetah conservation is restoration of wild prey species, most of which are small to medium-sized bovids.
- Ray, J., K. Redford, R. Steneck, J. Berger. 2005. Large Carnivores and the Conservation of Biodiversity. Washington D. C.: Island Press.
- CITES, 2010. "Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora" (On-line). CITES species database. Accessed April 12, 2011 at http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/species.html.
- IUCN, 2010. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Mammals. Accessed April 12, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/initiatives/mammals.
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