Half the world's wild animals have disappeared in 40 years: Humankind held responsible as familiar species lose battle for survival

Half the world's wild animals have disappeared in 40 years:

  • Humankind held responsible as familiar species lose battle for survival. 
  • Mankind's need for land and resources, combined with hunting and poaching, are causing our wild animals to die out.
  • Wildlife populations around the globe have declined by 52 per cent on average since 1970, a new report has found
  • The likes of forest elephants, African lions and tigers are under threat, as well as British harbour seals and birds
  • Lion numbers dropped 90 per cent in 40 years, tigers by 97 per cent in 100 years and elephants 60 per cent since 2002

From the forest elephants of Africa, to India’s tigers and even our own harbour seals, wildlife is losing the battle for survival all over the world. Exotic mammals such as the magnificent big cats are under the greatest threat, but even here in Britain numbers of once-familiar species have collapsed. And responsible for this dramatic decline is man. In fact, humankind’s ever-growing need for land and resources, coupled with hunting and poaching, has halved the number of wild animals in world in just 40 years, according to a shocking report. The Living Planet Report by WWF and the Zoological Society of London has found that wildlife populations around the globe have declined by 52 per cent on average since 1970.

The authors compiled data on 10,380 animal populations, including 3,038 different species, as an index to judge how global wildlife is faring as a whole. It shows that British animals have not escaped the global decline. The audit, which is published every two years, found that 90 per cent of corn buntings, a bird once often seen perched on fences, have disappeared from our countryside.

They also warned that humans are using resources faster than the planet can provide, cutting down forests too quickly, overfishing and pumping out pollution faster than the world can cope with it. Professor Ken Norris, director of science at Zoological Society of London (ZSL), said: ‘The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming. This damage is not inevitable, but a consequence of the way we choose to live.’ David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said: ‘The scale of destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call to us all. We all have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.’

Mr Nussbaum said consumers could reduce their impact on wildlife by choosing products which were sustainable, for example fish with the Marine Stewardship Council and timber with the Forest Stewardship Council certifications. He said that they could also look at reducing their meat and dairy consumption. Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at ZSL, said people should think about everything they do, from recycling to putting pressure on political and industry leaders, and getting their children outside to reconnect with nature.


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