Published: Thu, November 01, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Wildlife population plummets 60 pct in 44 years: WWF

Wildlife population plummets 60 pct in 44 years: WWF

"It's not just elephants, freshwater dolphins and rhinos, but Canadian wildlife too", Megan Leslie, WWF-Canada president and CEO, said in a release.

Species which live in fresh water habitats, such as frogs and river fish, have seen global population falls of 83%, according to the living planet index by the Zoological Society of London which tracks the abundance of wildlife.

The Living Planet Index tracks more than 4000 species spread across almost 17,000 populations.

Populations of more than 4,000 species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians have declined by an average of 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014.

For freshwater vertebrates, losses topped 80 per cent.

The most pronounced species declines are found in the tropics, with an 89 percent loss in Central and South America, according to their analysis.

But Australia's region didn't fare particularly well either.

The aim is to bend the biodiversity curve upwards, away from the current declining trend, by mitigating the impact of excessive human consumption and unchecked biodiversity loss through the development a roadmap 2020-2050 that is based on active participation of all stake-holders, namely, The Governments, Businesses, the Researchers and the community at large.

The 145-page study covers everything from the importance of nature in our lives and the world's economies to global threats and pressures to what future we want for our planet.

The index of extinction risk for five major groups - birds, mammals, amphibians, corals and an ancient family of plants called cycads - shows an accelerating slide towards oblivion.

By definition, this means that Earth has entered a mass extinction event.

The "Great Acceleration" of biodiversity loss over the last 50 years has been driven by economic successes as much as gross population increases of Homo sapiens. The main culprits of the destruction are overexploitation and agriculture.

Snider said habitat loss is the key issue causing this decline, and it comes in many forms.

National-level action like the US Endangered Species Act - which since enacted in 1973 has helped an estimated 99 percent of listed species avoid extinction - demonstrate what is possible when wildlife conservation and biodiversity are prioritized.

The second biggest threat to species was over exploitation such as hunting, over fishing and the illegal wildlife trade. The findings make Haiti the most deforested country in the world.

Wildlife declines are more pronounced in certain areas.

It said "Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions".

Yet the shock report, drawn up by 50 experts, highlights how human consumption of natural resources on land and sea is having a catastrophic impact. Each has a critical threshold, the upper limit of a "safe operating space" for our species.

The Paris Agreement, negotiated under the United Nations convention on climate change, also set a clear target: global warming must be held to "well below" 2C, and 1.5C if possible.

What is increasingly clear is that human development and wellbeing are reliant on healthy natural systems, and we can not continue to enjoy the former without the latter.

Each one of us in some way or the other is responsible for harassing the environment which has subsequently decimated global wildlife.

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