Wildlife On The Decline

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In the latest report of Living Planet, the environmental group singled out overexploitation of the planet’s resources and the food system as the biggest issues that specifically needs to be addressed.

Tony Juniper, WWF’s Executive director told The Independent, “Right now the destruction of nature is seen as the price of development, and we cannot continue like that”.

A“global deal”in the mould of the Paris climate agreement is needed to bring back the efforts to preserve the nature from the brink, a report has warned.

In just over 40 years,populations of mammals,reptiles,birds, amphibians and fish have fallen off a cliff – dropping by an average of 60 per cent.

Exotic species of animals like elephants,rhinos and polar bears are now joined by more familiar British animals like hedgehogs and puffins on the list of species that have massively dropped in numbers between 1970 and 2014.The conclusions were based on information collected from 16,704 populations of 4,005 animal species, averaging 60 percent during the said period.

Perhaps, it would give a much better picture of the collapse of global wildlife if we can have a look at some of the facts and figures below :

THE DECLINE IN NUMBERS:

  • Current efforts to protect nature are not working, with wildlife population sizes falling 60% globally since 1970, warned by WWF.
  • Global polar bear numbers are projected to decline by 30% by 2050 due to the climate change melting the sea ice they live on.
  • The whale shark population is estimated to have reduced by 63% over the last 75 yearsin the Indo pacific region.
  • Black & white rhinos populations have declined by an average of 63% between 1980 and 2006,mainly due to trade in their horns.
  • Nearly 50 tigers have died in India in 2018.
  • The total number of leopards poached in India during 2015-2018 is 260.
  • The African grey parrot population in south-west Ghana decreased by 98% between 1992 and 2014.Due to habitat loss, exploitation and degradation.
  • More than 26,500 species are threatened with extinction which is more than 27% of all assessed species.
  • More than 70% of our planet’s remaining areas of wilderness are contained in just 5 countries.
  • As of today ,about 23% (1,130 species) of mammals and 12% (1,194 species) of birds are considered as threatened by IUCN.

Major causes of decline in wildlife populations worldwide:

Rank Cause Of Species Loss % Of Loss Due to The Cause
1 Exploitation 37%
2 Habitat Degradation/Change 31.4%
3 Habitat Loss 13.4%
4 Climate Change 7.1%
5 Invasive Species/Genes 5.1%
6 Pollution 4%
7 Disease 2%

As per the estimation of Biologists there are between 5 and 15 million species of animals, plants, and micro-organisms existing on Earth today, of which only about 1.5 million have been named and described. The estimated total includes around 50,000 vertebrate species (of which about 10,000 are birds and 4,000 are mammals) about 300,000 plant species and between 4 to 8 million insects.

Today, just a quarter of the planet’s surface is free from human activity, and it is expected to shrink to a tenth by 2050.

Tanya Steele,chief executive at WWF said, “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it”.

“The collapse of global wildlife populations is a warning sign that nature is dying. But instead of putting the world on life support, we’re using a sticking plaster.”

But, Professor Ken Norris, director of Science at Zoological Society of London,said despite the shocking figures “all hope is not lost”.He helped compile the report and said, “We have an opportunity to design a new path forward that allows us to co-exist sustainably with the wildlife we depend upon”.

To combat this, WWF called for a game-changing commitment backed by governments and businesses around the world in order to preserve the Earth’s biodiversity.

Mr. Juniper noted there is a role for individual action as well,besides bringing together all of these factors on a global level.

WWF recommended the ideal time for such an agreement would be 2020 UN meetings,where discussions would be held on ocean conservation,climate change,biodiversity and sustainable development goals. As the situation looks increasingly desperate,urgent action must be taken within 12 years to avoid catastrophic global warming.

“The longer we leave it the more dire it is becoming, and it wouldn’t be right for us as conservationists to just say let’s do more of the same – more nature reserves, more protection of animals and plants,” said Mr Juniper.

“This is vital but not sufficient, we need to go a step further and a global deal of nature is how we do it.”

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