The empty forest

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Science  25 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6195, pp. 396-399
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6195.396

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Much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America suffers from overhunting. Lambir Hills National Park in western Borneo, one of the most diverse forests in the world, is a key case study in how the forest fares when it loses the herbivores that once thinned saplings and the fruit eaters that dispersed seeds. At Lambir, saplings became more crowded, raising the risk that the plants would get sick, and the number of species has fallen. Some officials and activists are trying to stop overhunting and illegal trade of wildlife. If hunting can be controlled in the parks, researchers hope, large animals may one day return.