Mass ex­tinc­tion of an­i­mals?

> Wildlife pop­u­la­tions fell by 58% since 1970: WWF

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

OSLO: World­wide pop­u­la­tions of mam­mals, birds, fish, am­phib­ians and rep­tiles have plunged by al­most 60% since 1970 as hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties over­whelm the en­vi­ron­ment, the World Wide Fund for Na­ture (WWF) con­ser­va­tion group said yes­ter­day.

An in­dex com­piled with data from the Zoo­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of London (ZSL) to mea­sure the abun­dance of bio­di­ver­sity was down 58% from 1970 to 2012 and would fall 67% by 2020 on cur­rent trends, the WWF said in a re­port.

The de­cline is yet an­other sign that peo­ple have be­come the driv­ing force for change on Earth, ush­er­ing in the epoch of the An­thro­pocene, a term de­rived from “an­thro­pos”, the Greek for “hu­man” and “-cene” de­not­ing a ge­o­log­i­cal pe­riod.

Con­ser­va­tion ef­forts ap­pear to be hav­ing scant im­pact as the in­dex is show­ing a steeper plunge in wildlife pop­u­la­tions than two years ago, when the WWF es­ti­mated a 52% de­cline by 2010.

“Wildlife is dis­ap­pear­ing within our life­times at an un­prece­dented rate,” WWF In­ter­na­tional di­rec­tor-gen­eral Marco Lam­ber­tini said in the group’s Liv­ing Planet Re­port, pub­lished ev­ery two years.

“Bio­di­ver­sity forms the foun­da­tion of healthy forests, rivers and oceans,” he said in a state­ment.

“We are en­ter­ing a new era in Earth’s his­tory: the An­thro­pocene,” Lam­ber­tini said.

The in­dex tracks about 14,200 pop­u­la­tions of 3,700 species of ver­te­brates – crea­tures that range in size from pea­sized frogs to 30m long whales.

The ris­ing hu­man pop­u­la­tion is threat­en­ing wildlife by clear­ing land for farms and cities, the WWF re­port said.

Other fac­tors in­clude pol­lu­tion, in­va­sive species, hunt­ing and cli­mate change.

But there were still chances to re­verse the trends, it said.

“Im­por­tantly ... these are de­clines, they are not yet ex­tinc­tions,” ZSL di­rec­tor of sci­ence Pro­fes­sor Ken Nor­ris said.

WWF global con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor Deon Nel told Reuters it was not all bad news.

“I don’t speak at all about doom and gloom – we do see a lot of pos­i­tive signs,” Nel said.

One hope­ful sign is a global agree­ment by al­most 200 na­tions last year to curb cli­mate change which could, for in­stance, help pro­tect trop­i­cal forests, slow a spread of deserts and curb an acid­i­fi­ca­tion of the seas caused by a build-up of car­bon diox­ide.

And a 2015 UN plan for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment by 2030, seek­ing to end poverty with poli­cies that safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment, would also help if prop­erly im­ple­mented. Also, some species are re­cov­er­ing. Last month, the gi­ant panda was taken off an en­dan­gered list af­ter a re­cov­ery in China. – Reuters

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