Wildlife’s alarming decline: populations of vertebrates have decreased by 60% | WWF

Wildlife’s alarming decline: populations of vertebrates have decreased by 60%



Posted on 26 November 2018
Jaguar, Brazil
© Staffan Widstrand / WWF Regional
  • WWF’s Living Planet Report calls for urgent action to revert the loss of biodiversity.
  • Fresh water ecosystems and tropical regions among the most affected
Lima, October 30th, 2018. According to the Living Planet Report released by WWF, our lifestyle is unsustainable. Human activities are causing biodiversity and animal populations to decrease at alarmingly high rates. Over 16,700 populations of more than 4000 vertebrate species have been monitored through the years, and the tragic outcome is that such populations have declined by 60 percent, on average.

In addition to how invaluable it would be to lose hundreds of unique species; the dramatic decrease of global biodiversity directly threatens human health and wellbeing as it jeopardizes the planet’s life support system. Thus, the LPR asks to act now.

Peru is one of ten megadiverse countries: it has the most butterfly species and the second-largest portion of Amazon rainforests; it comes third in diversity of birds, fourth in amphibians and fifth in mammals. Unfortunately, according to the Living Planet Report, Peru has faced a dramatic loss of biodiversity in the last years, as other tropical regions. Main causes include illegal hunting, habitat destruction and climate change. These are all directly related to our habits and consumption patterns.

The science behind biodiversity conservation

The best way to conserve wild species is to understand their behavior and threats, in order to design effective conservation strategies and catalyze the necessary public support. 

WWF Peru works in the field using hundreds of hidden cameras and recorders, as well as cutting edge techniques such as environmental DNA, to assess key species as the jaguar, the Andean tapir and the spectacled bear. This way it is possible to learn about their habits, interactions with people and even estimate their populations. Although it may not seem like it, all of these species are essential for our own life. For instance, “the Andean tapir is like an architect of the forest, who spreads seeds and forages on fresh sprouts. If it did not exist, the Paramo ecosystem and montane forests would lose a key species for their survival as a whole, and consequently, this would affect neighboring human communities who depend on the ecosystem services provided by the Paramo and forests, such as water supply and many others”, said José Luis Mena, Science Director of WWF Peru.
 
Fresh water ecosystems are the most affected

According to the LPR, over 80 percent of vertebrate species’ populations in freshwater ecosystems – such as rivers and lakes - have decreased, and the tropics are the regions most affected by this loss. To face this situation, WWF Peru, in collaboration with Pro Delphinus, recently conducted the first scientific expedition to install satellite transmitters on pink river dolphins, both inside and outside protected areas, to learn about the species populations’ health. “Satellite monitoring of dolphins provides critical information for the conservation of fresh water ecosystems and the species. Learning about the range of their territories, their feeding areas and the difference between populations living inside and outside protected areas, also provides first-hand information on the environmental condition, the threats wildlife face and how to protect it. It even aids towards better decision-making  by authorities”, said Mena.
 
Jaguar, Brazil
© Staffan Widstrand / WWF Regional Enlarge