Enjoy them while you can. Only half the world’s animals are left compared with 40 years ago, mainly due to habitat destruction either by locals for farming or by the multinational mineral and timber trades.
The biennial Living Planet Report, released this week by the conservation charity WWF, tracked the fate of 10,000 vertebrate species around the world between 1970 and 2010. It found that the total population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles has declined by 52 per cent in only two generations of humans.
Latin America saw the steepest decline, with animal populations falling by 83 per cent. Animals living in fresh water also fared badly, plummeting 76 per cent.
“The majority of species extintions and declines are being driven by human pressures on the environment, both international and local,” says Sam Turvey of the Institute of Biology at the Zoological Society of London, who helps run a scheme to protect unusual species.
“It’s a very challenging issue that requires a lot of effort and attention with complex solutions, given that it’s happening at a global level,” he says.
The New Scientist, 4 October 2014, page 5, “Wildlife Halved”