World wildlife ‘falls by 58% in 40 years’

An assessment by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF ‘The Living Planet’, suggests that if the trend continues that decline could reach two-thirds among vertebrates by 2020.

Lake, river and wetland animals are suffering the biggest losses with human activity contributing to the decline.  It also highlighted other species, such as African elephants and sharks which have suffered huge declines in recent years.

Head of science and policy at WWF Dr Mike Barrett said, “it’s pretty clear under ‘business as usual’ we will see continued declines in these wildlife populations. But I think now we’ve reached a point where there isn’t really any excuse to let this carry on. We know what the causes are and we know the scale of the impact that humans are having on nature and on wildlife populations – it really is now down to us to act.”

However the methodology of the report has been criticised.   Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University in the USA said that while wildlife was in decline, there were too many gaps in the data to boil population loss down to a single figure.

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