From the forest elephants of Africa, to India’s tigers and even our own harbour seals, wildlife is losing the battle for survival all over the world.
Exotic mammals such as the magnificent big cats are under the greatest threat, but even here in Britain numbers of once-familiar species have collapsed.
And responsible for this dramatic decline is man. In fact, humankind’s ever-growing need for land and resources, coupled with hunting and poaching, has halved the number of wild animals in world in just 40 years, according to a shocking report. The Living Planet Report by WWF and the Zoological Society of London has found that wildlife populations around the globe have declined by 52 per cent on average since 1970.
The authors compiled data on 10,380 animal populations, including 3,038 different species, as an index to judge how global wildlife is faring as a whole.
It shows that British animals have not escaped the global decline.
The audit, which is published every two years, found that 90 per cent of corn buntings, a bird once often seen perched on fences, have disappeared from our countryside.
The number of northern lapwings – another once-familiar sight on farmland – have fallen 60 per cent and grey partridges have halved in number. Harbour seals have declined by 40 per cent in the last decade alone in Orkney and Shetland, killed off by disease and measures to protect salmon farms.
The global picture is worst for freshwater creatures such as amphibians, river fish and mammals, with average population declines of 76 per cent between 1970 and 2010, says the latest data available. Land-dwelling animals declined by 39 per cent over the same period and sea creatures fell 39 per cent, the report found.
The authors said the main threats to wildlife are loss or damage to their habitat and exploitation through hunting and fishing.
They also warned that humans are using resources faster than the planet can provide, cutting down forests too quickly, overfishing and pumping out pollution faster than the world can cope with it.同时他们还警告称，人类获取资源的速度已经远远超过了地球可以提供资源的速度，过度伐木、过度捕鱼、过度污染等，都大大超过了地球的承受能力。
Professor Ken Norris, director of science at Zoological Society of London (ZSL), said: ‘The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming. This damage is not inevitable, but a consequence of the way we choose to live.’