World Wildlife Declines by Almost 58% in 40 Years

Published On:October 27, 2016, 6:52 pm

According to a latest report, the Global wildlife population has fallen by 58% ever since 1970. The WWF along with the Living Planet assessment, by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) hint that if this trend continues then the declination could possibly reach two-thirds amongst the vertebrates by the end of 2020.

The heaviest loss has been endured by the fauna living in the rivers, lakes and wetlands. Major factors contributing towards these declines are human activities which include habitat loss, pollution, wildlife trade and climate change.

Dr Mike Barrett, head of science and policy at WWF, said: "It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in these wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on.

"We know what the causes are and we know the scale of the impact that humans are having on nature and on wildlife populations - it really is now down to us to act."

The report looked at data gathered on 3,700 species of vertebrates over the last 40 years. Nevertheless, the methodological analysis of the report has been knocked and criticized.

Dr. Barrett stated that for freshwater species alone, the decline stands at 81% since 1970. The overall analysis focused at the gathered data on 3,700 different species of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles – approximately 6% of the total number of vertebrate species in the world.

Dr Barrett further stated that a few groups of animals had fared much worse than the others. "We do see particularly strong declines in the freshwater environment - for freshwater species alone, the decline stands at 81% since 1970. This is related to the way water is used and taken out of fresh water systems, and also the fragmentation of freshwater systems through dam building, for example." Because of poaching, African elephants’ number is drastically descending.

Dr. Robin Freeman from ZSL mentioned that, “If pressures - overexploitation, illegal wildlife trade for example - increase or worsen, then that trend may be worse.” "But one of the things I think is most important about these stats, these trends are declines in the number of animals in wildlife populations - they are not extinctions. By and large they are not vanishing, and that presents us with an opportunity to do something about it."

The research analysts concluded that vertebrate populations are reducing by an average of 2% per year and have issued a warning that if no action taken, the wildlife population will descend by 67% by the end of decade.

Nonetheless, Living Planet reports have managed to draw some criticisms. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University in the United States, stated that when wildlife was in decline, there were too many gaps in the data to boil population loss down to a single figure.

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