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Global Wildlife Loss More Alarming Than Previously Believed, Says New Study

A recent study has revealed that the global loss of wildlife is even more dire than previously thought, indicating that nearly half of the planet’s species are currently experiencing rapid population declines. Human activities, including habitat destruction and climate change, are the primary culprits driving these alarming declines in biodiversity. Experts suggest that humanity may be on the cusp of a “sixth mass extinction,” largely attributed to human actions.

The main factor contributing to the loss of wildlife is the extensive destruction of natural landscapes to make way for agricultural activities, urbanization, and infrastructure development. Climate change is another crucial driver of species decline, with its impact expected to worsen as the world continues to warm.

The recent study examined more than 70,000 species worldwide, encompassing mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. Its findings were published in the journal Biological. Disturbingly, the study found that 48% of these species are experiencing a decline in population size, while less than 3% are showing signs of an increase in population.

Co-author Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, described the findings as a “drastic alert.” This study confirms the severity of the ongoing “extinction crisis” on a global scale and offers a clearer picture of the extent of the erosion of biodiversity.

For decades, conservation efforts have relied on “conservation categories” assigned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess the status of each species. The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species currently classifies about 28% of species as under the threat of extinction. However, the new study focuses on whether population sizes are rapidly and progressively decreasing or not, as these trends often precede extinctions. As a result, it reveals that 33% of the species currently classified as “non-threatened” are, in fact, declining toward extinction.

The study highlights species declines across various categories, including mammals, birds, and insects. Amphibians, in particular, have been seriously affected and are grappling with numerous threats, including disease and climate change. Fish and reptiles, on the other hand, appear to have more stable populations.

Geographically, species declines are concentrated in the tropics, as animals in these regions are more sensitive to rapid environmental temperature changes. Despite concerns about the study’s results, which suggest that the situation might be inflated, it provides new insights into population trends.

In light of these findings, conservationists emphasize the urgent need for concerted efforts to protect endangered species and biodiversity worldwide. While there have been successful stories of species recovery, it is essential to address the broader issues affecting our ecosystems. Without thriving populations, species, habitats, and ecosystems, our planet’s health and our survival are at risk.