Global Wildlife Populations Declined by 68% since 1970, WWF Claims

The population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles have seen an alarming drop.
Derya Ozdemir

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there've been instances where nature healed itself and animals came back to reclaim what has been taken by the humans. However, a new report by the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Living Planet Report has shown that such events are not enough to redeem the damage of the past 50 years.

An extensive analysis of species' populations globally has revealed an average decline of 68% in wildlife species numbers between 1970 and 2016.


The WWF's Living Planet Report is published every two years to track and examine global biodiversity through the Living Planet Index. The metric it draws its conclusion from is provided by the Zoological Society of London and more than 4,000 other sources.

Worldwide populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have undergone an average two-thirds decline since 1970. Trade of wildlife, loss, and degradation of natural habitats, deforestation, and unsustainable agriculture are the main driving forces behind this dramatic decline.

Due to illegal hunting, the eastern lowland gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo saw an estimated 87% decline in their population between 1994 and 2015. The most affected, perhaps, was the Chinese sturgeon in the country's Yangtze river, which is now inhabitable because of the damming of the waterways and causing a decline of 97% between 1982 and 2015.

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Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, described the findings as "catastrophic." These declines in wildlife species populations are "an indicator that nature is unraveling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure."

Lambertini also added, "In the midst of a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever to take unprecedented and coordinated global action to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity and wildlife populations across the globe by the end of the decade and protect our future health and livelihoods. Our own survival increasingly depends on it."

You can read the full Living Planet Report 2020 here.

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