In the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, the organization reported that there was 58% decrease (.42 decay factor) in the populations of vertebrate animals from 1970 to 2012, such as mammals and birds. The terrestrial population decreased by 38%, a .62 decay factor. Even more alarmingly, WWF found that the populations of freshwater animal species decreased by 81% (.19 decay factor) from 1970 to 2012. These numbers are equally shocking and terrifying to me. Only 19% of the 1970 freshwater animal population still remained in 2012.
What is the reason for these extreme drops in animal populations? The World Wildlife Fund gives us 4 main reasons why this has occurred. First, habitat loss and degradation as a result of commercial and residential development. Second, our food systems have a negative impact on the natural world, such as overfishing. Third, climate change requires animals to adapt to different environments, damaging reproductive cycles and migration timing. Finally, species overexploitation harms animal populations. Sometimes this is direct and intentional, such as with illegal hunting, and other times it is unintentional, such as catching one type of fish when you meant to catch another type.
People should stay away from wildlife crime, it is both wrong and unsustainable. In addition, everyday changes we can make to our lifestyle to prevent climate change can help stop this massive decrease in animal populations.
The information you provide here is striking and critical to publish. The declining species world wide is worrisome and unfortunate, but the amount of people who care about this stuff and take action to change the occurring degradation of the environment is slim. The growing population in addition to the need for commercial real estate, for example, will not cease production if there are only a handful of people in the grand scheme of the world who feel strongly about preserving wild life. I wonder what will happen in the next 10 years – meaning will this get resolved or continue.
Wow. I cannot believe that such a massive drop in these populations has occurred. When you calculate these rates of decrease it really helps to conceptualize what these numbers actually mean and it definitely puts a lot of weight on this issue. For example, hearing that 19% of the animal population from 1970 is what it is today is so shocking and makes it seem like an even huger issue. Thanks for putting that into perspective, Jane!
Similar to leils post within our comment group, yours attacks the major issues of wildlife abuse. The thing that is so scary for me personally is that this is not even close to a linear decrease. All of the cited facts revolving around animal abuse are exponential which leads me to believe it will be even that much more difficult to fix.