Human activity has wiped out an average of 69% of the world's wildlife in just under 50 years, according to a report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Outlined in the organisation's biannual Living Planet Report, researchers showcased indexes of animal population decline across all continents. Their data revealed that the regions experiencing the highest rates of decline include Latin America, the Caribbean region - including the Amazon - and Africa.
As per the WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Earth's wildlife population declined on average by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 2018. Two years ago, this figure stood at 68% and four years ago, it was at 60%, The Guardian reported. Several scientists now believe that our planet is living through the sixth mass extinction - the largest loss of life on Earth since the time of dinosaurs.
Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF-UK, said: "This report tells us that the worst declines are in the Latin America region, home to the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon. Deforestation rates there are accelerating, stripping this unique ecosystem not just of trees but of the wildlife that depends on them and of the Amazon's ability to act as one of our greatest allies in the fight against climate change."
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Researchers noted that Africa had the second largest fall at 66%, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 55% and North America at 20%. Europe and Central Asia also experienced an 18% fall.
In their report, the authors urged world leaders to reach an ambitious agreement at the COP15 biodiversity summit in Canada this December and to slash carbon emissions in order to limit global heating to below 1.5 Celsius this decade that halt the rampant destruction of nature.
"Despite the science, the catastrophic projections, the impassioned speeches and promises, the burning forests, submerged countries, record temperatures and displaced millions, world leaders continue to sit back and watch our world burn in front of our eyes," Ms Steele said.
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"The climate and nature crises, their fates entwined, are not some faraway threat our grandchildren will solve with still-to-be-discovered technology," she added.
Further, in the report, the researchers noted that land use change is still the most important driver of biodiversity loss across the planet.