The earth’s wildlife is vanishing. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, there has been a 58 percent decline in vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. At this rate, it could be 66 percent by 2020. Vertebrates include mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish.
So, what’s killing off the world’s animals at such an alarming rate? Sadly, humans are the greatest threat to wildlife. Colby Loucks, Senior Director of WWF’s Wildlife Conservation Program, links the problem to “habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate change.” Fact is, we are clear-cutting forests, over fishing, and poaching some of the world’s most magnificent species.
Below are some of the most alarming statistics published in the report:
• The African Elephant population has declined 30 percent in just seven years
• Populations of freshwater species have declined 81 percent
• A massive section of the Great Barrier reef has died
• It requires 1.6 Earth’s to provide the goods and services we use each year
The situation is frightening, but there are still reasons to be optimistic. If humans are largely responsible for the decline, a collective effort to save the world’s wildlife could be very effective in reversing the situation. Knowledge is power. As more people come to understand that healthy ecosystems are critical to our own well-being and survival, more people will take action to protect the earth’s wildlife and environment. So, what can we do now? Learn more about the issues, then take action by spreading the word and supporting conservation. Together, we can preserve the wondrous diversity of our planet for generations to come.