Global wildlife populations in freefall
September 10, 2020 - Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years as humanity pushes the planet’s life support systems to the edge, according to a report by the conservation group WWF.
On average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London (ZSL)’s biennial Living Planet Report 2020.
The analysis tracked global data on 20,811 populations of 4,392 vertebrate species monitored by conservation scientists in habitats across the world.
Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the most alarming drop, with an average fall of 94% in vertebrate wildlife populations.
Africa and the Asia Pacific region have also experienced large falls in the abundance of species, dropping 65% and 45% respectively
The decline was clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world, said Dr Andrew Terry, ZSL director.
Scientists say the rapid pace of deforestation is also a major factor in the spread of zoonotic diseases – which are passed from animals to humans – including the new coronavirus.