WWF: Humans have killed over half Earth's animals since 1970

"No matter how you add it up, the math does not look good," said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International.

By Brooks Hays

GLAND, Switzerland, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Humans are to blame -- directly and indirectly -- for the deaths of millions of animals over the last half-century.

According to a new report from the World Wildlife Foundation, the planet's populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles shrunk by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012.


If animals continue to die off at the current pace, by 2020, more than two-thirds of world's animals will have died in just 50 years.

"Wildlife is disappearing within our lifetimes at an unprecedented rate," Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in a news release. "This is not just about the wonderful species we all love; biodiversity forms the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans."

Lambertini warns Earth's most precious resources -- clean air and water, healthy soils, pollinate crops -- rely on services provided by healthy animal populations and healthy ecosystems.

The Living Planet Report 2016 focuses animal abundance, not the exact number of animals that are killed or species that went extinct. Animal populations are shrinking as a result of habitat loss and degradation, as well as overexploitation -- a combination of hunting, poaching and commercial fishing.


The study's authors cite recent agreements in Paris on how to tackle climate change and sustainable development as reason for optimism, but say more needs to be done to protect animal populations and ensure the planet's resources are managed responsibly.

"No matter how you add it up, the math does not look good. The more we continue to exceed Earth's limits, the more damage we do to our own future," said Lambertini. "We are at a decisive moment in time when we can seize the solutions to steer our food, energy and finance systems in a more sustainable direction."

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