9 min read

This Is Why Wildlife Has Halved Since 1975

Every year we lose species, every year nature as well as wildlife is suffering as a result of human behavior and it's even worse than we thought. A new report from London Zoological Society claims that the world's wildlife population has halved in the past 40 years making the situation worse than previously thought.

(Photo: MrTinDC)

When our ancestors celebrated the invention of cars, massive machinery and fancy technology that allowed human beings to do things that were once considered magic, they had no idea what implications their discoveries would have. Now, many years later, technology has allowed us to achieve things believed to be impossible in the past, but its left its mark. Whichever way we put it, our behavior is harming our planet.: human beings are now the most dominant creature on our planet. We have produced wonders that have lifted people out of poverty and eased the suffering for millions of people worldwide, but it all comes at a price.

An environmental check-up

The Living Planet Index is like an environmental check-up and this time the diagnosis is bad. Between 1970 and 2010 animal species have declined by 52 percent which is far more than expected, especially in tropical areas. All over the world animals have lost their habitats, forest disappears and the more human civilization expands, the less space is left for the rest of the world's species. This disturbing news was revealed in the new living planet index a scientific report conducted in conjunction with WWF.

Tracking the wildlife population requires tricky statistic and advanced research methods, and the living index has previously been criticized for its lack of accuracy. But this time the team has improved their methodology in order to achieve better results and the outcome is scary: earth's wildlife is disappearing with rapid speed. Human's cut down trees faster than they can regrow, they harvest so many fish that the sea doesn't have time to restock and emit far too much carbon for the environment to handle. So how will the planet cope?

Human greed

(Photo: Timquijano)

Well, if our lifestyle continues, the plain answer to that question is that the planet simply won't cope. The global population continues to rise, undeveloped countries fight to compete on the global market and more wildlife habitats disappear due to human expansion. People need land for agriculture, urban developments and energy production, and, for many countries, climate change management and green solutions can seem tricky and far-fetched Humanity's demand simply exceeds the planet's biocapacity and to complicate the matter even further, the global resources are not evenly distributed. The industrialized nations eat the biggest slice of the cake while others are left to eat the leftovers. So how do we solve the issue?

As the report points out, the issue goes beyond wildlife; it's about saving the planet as a whole. Declining wildlife is just one out of many side effects to human behavior, but it's one that we cannot ignore. In our civilization occupying another people's country is a declaration of war, but most of us don't realize how much we have taken away from the earth's wildlife. We have occupied their habitats, torn it apart and left them with nothing.

Finding a cure?

(Image: Esparta Palma)

According to the Living Planet Report we currently need 1.5 Earths to meet the demands we make on nature. In other words, we are eating it up and the more we eat, the less is left for all other animals on the planet. The Living Planet report also makes the division between countries clear. While China and the U.S. have the largest total carbon footprint, the rest of the world only take up 52.8 percent of the total numbers, and if the trend continues more countries will follow in their footsteps as populations grows. High-income countries use five times as much per capita compared to low income countries and what happens when the rest of the world catches up? There simply won't be enough biocapacity.

(Photo: Frontier's Uganda Mountain Gorilla Adventure)

So how do we stop it?

We need intensive conservation efforts to save wildlife and their habitats as well as sustainable solutions on a global scale. The Living Planet Report urges people to share the earth's resources better, reward conservation work and find ways to produce better and consume more wisely, all a part of what they call "the planet solution." Uganda is a good example of this way of thinking. In isolated areas of the country, a lot of effort has been put into conserving mountain gorillas whose population is now growing. As a result, tourists are now coming to visit an otherwise remote mountain village that can now offer jobs to its citizens.

I am an intern at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Frontier has over 300 dedicated conservation and community development projects as well as plenty of inspiring gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information on all the opportunities available please visit www.frontier.ac.uk. Check out Frontier's blog ‘Into the Wild' where you can read more articles like this! Happy reading! Get more from us on social media with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. See more from volunteers on YouTube, Flickr and Instagram #FrontierVolunteer.