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.