January 18, 2019

Earth's Wild Animal Population Plummets 60 Per Cent In 44 Years: WWF

30 October 2018, 06:28 | Edward Lowe

In Canada, mammal populations dropped by 43 per cent, amphibian and reptile populations dropped by 34 per cent, fish populations dropped by 20 per cent, and some types of birds have lost between 43 and 69 per cent of their populations.

Internationally, the organization found that wildlife population declines are especially significant in the tropics, with an 89 per cent loss reported in South and Central America and the Caribbean since 1970.

The organisation's Living Planet Report 2018 says nine out of 10 of the world's seabirds are thought to have plastic in their stomachs, while by 2050 only one tenth of the planet's land will be free from human impact.

"This report sounds a warning shot across our bow".

Human activity is at the core of this wildlife crisis according to the WWF with overconsumption resulting in a loss or degradation of wildlife habitat which exacerbates climate change. Food and medicines, it says, all rely on natural resources.

The organisation calls for world leaders to reach "the most ambitious worldwide agreement yet" to curb biodiversity loss, emphasising that the world faces a "rapidly closing window for action an an unparalleled opportunity as we head into the year 2020".

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"And this is when the world should embrace a new global deal for nature and people, as we did in Paris, and truly demonstrate the path we are choosing for people and the planet", Lambertini urged.

WWF UK Chief Executive Tanya Steele added in a statement, "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it".

To drive home just how devastating this is, Professor Bob Watson who is a chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity said that the destruction of nature is as unsafe a climate change, stressing that wildlife and the ecosystems are essential to human life.

"If we want a world with orangutans and puffins, clean air and enough food for everyone, we need urgent action from our leaders and a new global deal for nature and people that kick starts a global program of recovery".

"The situation is really bad, and it keeps getting worse", WWF International Director-General Marco Lambertini told AFP. "Natural systems essential to our survival - forests, oceans, and rivers - remain in decline", he said.

He said global warming also plays a role.

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"The CBD is failing", he said.

It also encouraged a deal to be struck at the 75th United Nations General Assembly in 2020.

African elephant populations in Tanzania have declined by 60% between 2009 and 2014, mostly due to poaching for their ivory.

Deforestation in Borneo, created to make way for timber and palm oil plantations, led to the loss of 100,000 orangutans between 1999 and 2015, the report estimated.

Polar bear numbers are projected to decline by 30% by 2050, as climate change melts the Arctic ice and reduces their ability to hunt seals, find mates and rear their young.

The WWF attributed the global drop in animal populations to habitat loss, due to agriculture and over-exploitation of species.

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