The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Various species of are commonly seen wildlife across the Americas and Eurasia.
Various species of deer are commonly seen wildlife across the Americas and Eurasia.

The term wildlife refers to living organisms that are not in any way artificial or domesticated and which exist in natural habitats. Wildlife can refer to flora (plants) but more commonly refers to fauna (animals). Needless to say, wildlife is a very general term for life in various ecosystems. Deserts, rainforests, plains, and other areas—including the most built-up urban sites—all have distinct forms of wildlife.

Humankind has historically tended to separate civilization from wildlife in a number of ways; besides the obvious difference in vocabulary, there are differing expectations in the legal, social, and moral sense. This has been reason for debate throughout recorded history. Religions have often declared certain animals to be sacred, and in modern times concern for the environment has provoked activists to protest the exploitation of wildlife for human benefit or entertainment.

Literature has also made use of the traditional human separation from wildlife.


Wildlife as food

In Stone Age tribes, hunter-gatherers relied on wildlife, both plant and animal, as their only food source. In fact, some species may have been hunted to extinction by early human hunters. With the rise of agriculture and the domestication of some wildlife, this reliance decreased. However, hunting for game remained an important part of many cultures' diet. Today, hunting, fishing, or gathering wildlife is still a significant food source in some parts of the world. In other areas, hunting and non-commercial fishing are mainly seen as a sport or recreation, with the edible meat as mostly a side benefit. Meat sourced from wildlife that is not traditionally regarded as game is known as bushmeat.

Wildlife preservation

In some countries, protected areas, wildlife preserves or national parks have been set up to protect wildlife and their natural habitat. The most prominent of these are listed as World Heritage Sites or Biosphere Reserves by the UNESCO. The establishment of parks has been motivated by a mixture of environmentalism, tourism, and other factors. Some of these parks merely prevent development of the land, while still allowing limited hunting and fishing as a population control measure. Others forbid hunting or fishing and some may also limit the number or type of tourist excursions. Wildlife crossings have been installed at some roads to reverse habitat fragmentation.

Wildlife on television

Wildlife has long been a common subject for educational television shows. National Geographic specials appeared on CBS beginning in 1965, later moving to ABC and then PBS. In 1963, NBC debuted Wild Kingdom, a popular program featuring zoologist Marlin Perkins as host. Since 1984, the Discovery Channel and its spinoff Animal Planet in the USA and the BBC natural history unit in the UK have dominated the market for shows about wildlife, especially those produced or presented by David Attenborough..

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See also

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04