The world’s wildlife populations have declined by more than two-thirds since 1970 as forests have been cleared and oceans polluted, according to a new assessment.
This “serious drop … tells us that nature is unravelling and the natural world is emptying”, said Andrew Terry, director of conservation and policy at the Zoological Society of London.
The World Wildlife Fund report, which used 2018 data from ZSL on the status of 32,000 wildlife populations covering more than 5000 species, found that population sizes had declined by 69 per cent on average.
Deforestation, human exploitation, pollution, and climate change were the biggest drivers of the loss.
Wildlife populations in Latin American and the Caribbean were hit especially hard, experiencing a 94 per cent drop in just five decades. One population of pink river dolphins in the Brazilian Amazon plummeted by 65 per cent between 1994 and 2016, the report said.
Its findings were broadly similar to those in WWF’s last assessment in 2020, with wildlife population sizes continuing to decline at a rate of about 2.5 per cent every year, Terry said.