Between 1970 and 2014, more than half of the world’s vertebrate population (animals with a backbone) was wiped out by human activity, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The ‘Living Planet’ report surveyed more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations across the world. Some of the findings:
- 60 per cent Loss of vertebrates — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — due to human activity during 1970-2014.
- 80 per cent decline in freshwater fauna population over the 44-year period.
- 90 per cent loss of wildlife in Latin America, the worst-hit region.
- 100-1,000 times the current rate of species loss, as compared to the rate a few hundred years ago, when people began to alter Earth’s chemistry and crowd other creatures out of existence. Expressed as a range because it depends on which species are included.
Loss of species was measured in terms of the “Living Planet Index”. The species population data that is collected goes into a global index, as well as indices for specific biogeographic areas. In the graph, the global index shows an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014 —an average drop of over half in less than 50 years.