What would the earth look like without people

World map: This is what the earth would look like without people

Bears, elephants and even rhinos could live all over Europe today if it had not been for modern humans. Danish researchers use a map to show the distribution of large mammals in a world without us

If you want to observe large mammals in their natural environment, it is best to travel to Africa today. It would look completely different if the homo sapiens would not have spread. In northern Europe, on an earth without humans, not only would elk and wolves live, but also elephants and even rhinos. This is the result of the researchers Jens-Christian Svenning and Soren Faurby from the University of Aarhus.

"Northern Europe is by no means the only place where humans have decimated the diversity of mammals - it is a worldwide phenomenon," says Svenning. "In most places there is a large deficit in the biodiversity of mammals compared to that which should actually exist there naturally".

According to the study, climate or environmental influences are not responsible for the species richness in Africa, but the fact that many habitats for these animals have been preserved there. "Africa is so biodiverse today not because it naturally was, but because it is one of the few places on earth where human activity has not yet wiped out the large animals," says Faurby.

This is also the reason why many large mammals are now often only found in the mountains. "One example in Europe is the brown bear," says Faurby. "Today it lives almost exclusively in the mountain regions because it was exterminated in the more accessible and mostly densely populated lowland areas."

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