WWF: wild animal populations further reduced, but recovery possible

Between 1970 and 2016, the world’s wild animal populations declined by 68%. In the Living Planet Report published last night, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says that the main reason for this decline is that animal habitats are disappearing through agriculture, deforestation and overexploitation such as overfishing. Illegal animal trade is also one of the causes.

The conservation organisation publishes the Living Planet Report every two years. The report published in 2018 showed that the decline was still 60% between 1970 and 2014. More than 125 scientists from all over the world count the animal populations. They keep statistics on all kinds of animals, such as how many they are and where they live. There has been a database of them since 1970.

Populations fell most sharply in the tropical regions of Central and South America: by almost 94% on average. This is one of the most striking results, according to WWF. Think of different species of frogs, such as the spiny giant frog, but also better known species such as the green sea turtle. Populations of freshwater animals also decreased on average by 84 percent. These include reptiles, fish and amphibians that live in wetlands.

The most important message of this report is that if we do nothing, the curve will fall, says Kirsten Schuijt, director of the World Wildlife Fund Netherlands, in the CCeit Radio 1 Journaal. We will have the same message in two and four years’ time. But if we turn the tide now and really take action, we can still turn that curve around

WWF’s work to prevent the extinction of tigers is a good example to her. Although these numbers have been falling for some time now, you can now see that they are beginning to rise, says Schuijt. That means that if you leave nature alone for a while and restore it, it will be very resilient. That is the beauty of nature. You also see it in Europe: the wolf is coming back and the lynx has been seen again in the Ardennes

So Schuijt does think that something can still be done to prevent disappearance and restore nature. This requires a combination of nature conservation, reduced and sustainable energy consumption and a sustainable way of consuming and producing food. Now about a third of all food we produce is lost or thrown away’