Wildlife population plummets 60 pct in 44 years: WWF

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Shock findings released today showed that global wildlife populations have fallen by 60% since 1970 as humans overuse natural resources, drive climate change and pollute the planet. The demand we place on the planet's natural resources to fuel our lifestyles continues to take a huge toll on biodiversity around the world.

Human beings have wiped out a staggering 60% of the global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians since 1970, said the World Wildlife Fund.

From hedgehogs and puffins to elephants, rhinos and polar bears, wildlife is in decline, due to the loss of habitats, poaching, pollution of land and seas and rising global temperatures, the Living Planet report warns. For this reason, many species live only in the lagoons or mountain across Central and South America, and any adjustment of the natural environment generally means the species extinction.

In the last 30 years, the Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals, while in the past 50 years, 20% of the Amazon-the lungs of the planet-has disappeared.

The WWF has previously issued separate reports on fish populations being halved over the last several decades.

What is increasingly clear is that human development and wellbeing are reliant on healthy natural systems, and we can not continue to enjoy the former without the latter. According to the WWF, this provides world leaders with an opportunity to draft a more ambitious agreement with higher reaching targets.

"With the upcoming European Union elections and the resulting renewal of key decision-making bodies, Europe has the opportunity to revive its global leadership on climate change and nature conservation", Asin said.

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Current action to protect nature fails to match the scale of the threat facing the planet, the conservationists claim.

Despite the disheartening statistics, the WWF points out that it's not too late to turn things around, and that protecting nature helps protect people.

The study stated the biggest losses happened in the tropics of South and Central America where there has been an 89 percent decline in vertebrates from 1970.

Global wildlife like the black crested macaque has been decimated, say the WWF.

A 2020 meeting of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to make new commitments for the protection of nature. The report presents a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world's wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how people value, protect and restore nature.

"Europe must lead by example by adopting an ambitious post-2020 European Union biodiversity strategy, and integrating biodiversity and climate protection into all relevant sectoral policies", she said. 'There is a limit to what we can destroy, and there is a minimum amount of nature that we need to preserve, ' Lambertini added, noting in the study that the worldwide community has a 'rapidly closing window for action'.