Global wildlife facing worst crisis since extinction of dinosaurs

A male Asiatic Lion looks out from his enclosure at London Zoo, in London, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. Environmentalists are warning that global wildlife populations have fallen an average of 58 percent when compared to the 1970s, in "The Living Planet" report from WWF and the Zoological Society of London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Wildlife populations across the world have fallen by a staggering 58 per cent in the last five decades, according to a new report.
Research put together by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) suggests that the decline could reach two thirds among vertebrates, or animals with backbones, by the year 2020.
Figures in the Living Planet report suggest that animals which live on or near to water could be most at risk. Those whose habitat is a lake, river or wetland are facing the biggest threat.
The decline in population has in large part been down to human intervention, including loss of habitat, the trade in wildlife, pollution and climate change.
Dr Mike Barrett, who is head of science and policy at the WWF said that if the situation continued as it is, there would be ongoing decline.
He added: “I think now we’ve reached a point where there isn’t really any excuse to let this carry on.We know what the causes are and we know the scale of the impact that humans are having on nature and on wildlife populations; it really is now down to us to act.”
According to authors, the world is heading for the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs were completely wiped out 65 million years ago.
However, many have criticised the methodology used in this latest piece of research.
The report is published every two years to provide an ongoing assessment of world wildlife populations.
It examines data on 3,700 different species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, which make up around six per cent of the total number of vertebrate species across the globe.
The information was then weighted to factor in groups of animals where there was a great deal of historic data, including those from the Arctic, to ensure that a surplus of data about declines in some species did not skew the overall picture it was trying to achieve.
The previous report said that world wildlife populations had halved, suggesting that the ongoing decline is continuing at an alarming rate.
Some species are coping much worse than others at dealing with human interference in their lives. For freshwater species, the population is said to be 81 per cent down since 1970, which is believed to be because of water being either taken out of natural fresh water systems, or dams being built.