The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an international organization working to protect wildlife around the world has revealed in its ‘Living Planet Report 2020’ that Wildlife populations have declined by two-thirds during the last 50 years.

The joint report by scientists, biologists and other authoritative experts states that the population of global mammals, reptiles, aquatic and terrestrial animals, birds and a variety of fish have dropped by two-thirds. According to the report, such a decrease has not been seen in any other era before, and now it become possible now due to rate of destruction of the natural environment.  

According to experts, the report shows that human activities are rapidly destroying the natural environment, which is having a devastating effects not only on wildlife but also on human health and various aspects of life. It causes global pandemics, devastation of agriculture, wildlife and also creating the issue of food insecurity. Experts say that the evidence that the decline of wildlife population is a clear indication that human activities are rapidly disrupting the natural system and that it can lead to different catastrophic events.

On the report, Director General Wildlife Pakistan Hamad Naqi Khan to VOA Urdu that from fish in the seas and rivers to bees are a direct source of food for human beings. Khan said that that due to the decline in the agriculture production, millions of people around the world are at the risk of food insecurity.  Hamad Naqi Khan added that the diversity of the world is declining rapidly, with the decline in the populations of different species.

According to him, there are two main causes of diseases transmitted from animals. One is that humans are trying to enter an animal shelter for agriculture is tried or other constructions. In such a situation, there are more chances of other pandemic like coronavirus. He says that in this situation, the responsibility lies on human beings. The report also tries to convey the same message that 75% of the world’s epidemics have been transmitted from animals to humans. According to Khan, whether it is SARS, bird flu, avian flu, AIDS or any other such virus, humans have contracted it from animals.

“Major forest fires in different parts of the world this year, rapid rise in average global temperatures, unusual rainfall and flooding in urban areas and other factors are warning us that we are on the wrong track,” he said.

Climate change and Pakistan

On the other hand, if we talk about Pakistan, it is included in the list of 100 countries most affected by climate change in the world. Khan said that the country’s largest river ‘Indus River’ is the second largest river in the world affected by plastic pollution. The number of freshwater turtles, vultures, crocodiles and other migratory birds in the country is declining rapidly. The main reasons behind wildlife population, he said, are the illegal trade of wildlife, plastic waste, water pollution and climate change, and urgent action is needed.

The report, compiled in collaboration with more than 125 experts from around the world, shows a sharp decline in global wildlife population trends. The main reason for the dramatic decline in wildlife populations is the depletion of their natural habitats, deforestation and changes in land use to meet human food needs.

Threat to the world’s ecosystem

In the report, Dr Andrew Terry, director of the Zoological Society of London, said that according to global biological data, the 68 per cent decline in the last 50 years was a clear sign of catastrophic damage to humans and the natural environment. He said if environment was not protected, the extinction of this species will continue and would lead to completed extinction of wildlife and would threatens the world’s ecosystem.  

But experts say destructive trends can be reversed with determination and investment to protect wildlife from extinction. The report says that unless steps are taken to address the damage to wildlife habitats, their population will continue to decline. An integrated strategy is needed to reduce this decline, said the report. According to the report, human encroachment on nature and reversal of damage to natural sites is possible only if bold efforts are made to protect it and change food needs. This research shows that implementing these measures will help reduce the increasing pressure and damage to wildlife.  

David Leckler, a research scholar at the International Institute of Applied Systems, says it will take years to reduce these losses. According to him, there is a possibility of irreparable damage to the ecosystem and poses a threat to the system on which human beings depend.

The report comes a week before the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. World leaders are expected to review progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UN General Assembly will bring together all world leaders, institutions and members of civil society to take action and develop a framework for 2020, and determine a milestone in the urgent need for a “new treaty for nature and man.”

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