Two-Thirds Of Wild Animals To Be Wiped Of The Earth By 2020 In Biggest Mass Extinction Since The Dinosaurs

Two-Thirds Of Wild Animals To Be Wiped Of The Earth By 2020 In Biggest Mass Extinction Since The Dinosaurs

Our planet is currently facing the largest mass extermination of animals since the dinosaurs as we continue to destroy the natural world.

That's the communication coming from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in a new report published this week.

An valuation of 14,152 populations of 3,706 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles from around the world reveals a 58% fall between 1970 and 2012 - with no sign of the average 2% drop in numbers each year will show.

By 2020, populations of vertebrate species could have fallen by 67% over a 50-year period unless action is taken to reverse the damaging impacts of human activity.

Called the Living Planet report, it has prompted scientists and conservations to warn about the devastating impact of humans on the world. Experts have cautioned that nature is facing a global "mass extinction" for the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs.

African elephants in Tanzania have seen figures smash due to poaching, manned wolves in Brazil are endangered by grasslands being bent into farmland, and in addition European eels have failed due to disease, over-fishing and variations to their river habitats.

Species are being increasingly affected by unsustainable agriculture and fishing, as well as mining and other human activities that cause habitats to be lost or become degraded.

Wildlife is also being hit by over-exploitation, climate change and pollution, the report warned.

It is not just wildlife that is being affected, with humans also the "victims" of the deteriorating state of nature, as they depend on breathable air, drinkable water and nutritious food, it said.

While wildlife endures to decline on average, species that depend on certain habitats have seen some enhancements in recent years.

Grassland species have augmented slightly since 2004, which the report puts down to preservation efforts for some mammals in Africa, though bird populations continued to decline.

Overall worldly species, which are found in locales ranging from grasslands to forests, have seen inhabitants drop by two-fifths (38%) since 1970.

Freshwater species are faring even worse, with declines of four-fifths (81%) between 1970 and 2012. Wetland wildlife has seen an increase since 2005, and marine species have been stable since 1988 - although the mainstream of stocks that contribute most to global fish catches are now either fully fished or overfished.

"For the first time since the passing of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a worldwide mass extinction of wildlife," said Mike Barrett, director of science and policy at WWF-UK.

"We ignore the decline of other species at our peril - for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us.

Humanity's misuse of natural resources is threatening habitats, pushing irreplaceable species to the brink and threatening the stability of our climate." he added: "We know how to stop this. It requires governments, businesses and citizens to rethink how we produce, consume, measure success and value the natural environment.

"In the UK, this demands a serious plan to strengthen protection for habitats and species and new measures to fast-track low-carbon growth."

Professor Ken Norris, director of science at ZSL: "Human behaviour continues to drive the decline of wildlife populations globally, with particular impact on freshwater habitats."

"Importantly, however, these are declines - they are not yet extinctions - and this should be a wake-up call to marshal efforts to promote the recovery of these populations."

The report highlights the success of habitat protection and strict controls on hunting in Europe to help restore populations of wildlife including bears, lynx, wolverines and wolves.