The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020.
The report analysed the changing abundance of more than 14,000 monitored populations of the 3,700 vertebrate species for which good data is available. This produced a measure akin to a stock market index that indicates the state of the world’s 64,000 animal species and is used by scientists to measure the progress of conservation efforts.
The biggest cause of tumbling animal numbers is the destruction of wild areas for farming and logging: the majority of the Earth’s land area has now been impacted by humans, with just 15% protected for nature. Poaching and exploitation for food is another major factor, due to unsustainable fishing and hunting: more than 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, according to recent research.
Pollution is also a significant problem with, for example, killer whales and dolphins in European seas being seriously harmed by long-lived industrial pollutants. Vultures in south-east Asia have been decimated over the last 20 years, dying after eating the carcasses of cattle dosed with an anti-inflammatory drug. Amphibians have suffered one of the greatest declines of all animals due to a fungal disease thought to be spread around the world by the trade in frogs and newts.
Rivers and lakes are the hardest hit habitats, with animals populations down by 81% since 1970, due to excessive water extraction, pollution and dams. All the pressures are magnified by global warming, which shifts the ranges in which animals are able to live, said WWF’s director of science, Mike Barrett.
What can we do to prevent this happening?
Well I can think two immediate steps we can all take.
One, whenever a WWF leaflet falls out of a magazine, make sure to rip the photograph of the snow leopard, tiger, panda or whatever into tiny pieces so as not to be taken in by the heartrending, vanishing-species-porn blurb emotionally blackmailing you into giving your hard-earned cash to what is essentially just a rapacious eco-fascist propaganda organisation.
Two, never ever visit London Zoo. Obviously it will be sad never to see the Lubetkin penguin pool again, nor to be able to quote Hamlet at the wolves in honour of Withnail & I. Also, if enough of us do it, I guess all the animals will have to be shot. But here’s the thing: like the WWF, the Zoological Society of London is little more than a front these days for grotesquely right-on, misanthropic, eco freaks who basically think that people like you and me are a cancer on the planet.
Why am I saying this?
Because we’ve been through exactly this “all the wild animals are dying and it’s all our fault” nonsense as recently 2014, when the WWF produced a similarly doom-laden report.
It was bunk then – for reasons I detail here – and it’s bunk now.
Yes, of course habitat loss is a problem for wildlife numbers; and yes, humans have undoubtedly been responsible for a number of species extinctions, especially from hunting animals or from introducing predators (eg cats, rats) to previously protected environments.
But the scary predictions on biodiversity loss and species extinction are in truth about as credible as the scary predictions about man-made climate change: they’re more about grabbing headlines, raising money and provoking action than they are about observed data. They’re just computer projections based on dodgy estimates and unreliable raw data.
Eco-freaks love to talk up extinction stories – even when, as in the case of the Aldabra banded snail the species isn’t actually extinct.
If so many species are really going extinct, where are the bodies?
There aren’t any because – barring recent sad examples like the Golden Toad of Costa Rica, driven to extinction by a chytrid fungus probably spread by wildlife researchers – these animals aren’t actually going extinct.
But of course that’s never going to stop media organisations like the Guardian (and indeed the Telegraph, CNN, the Independent, etc) typing up the WWF’s press releases like the dutiful little eco-warriors they are – and imprinting the lie in the heads of a million and one gullible fluffkins.
The Guardian’s version, alone, has been shared over 111,000 times.
So that’s at least 111,000 shrill, self-righteous eco-twerps bleating on to anyone will listen about how all the wild animals are dying and it’s all our fault based on some undigested propaganda they read in the Guardian. Great.