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Wildlife numbers plummeting: "A great extinction is underway"

Cross-posted on Reuters

The World Wildlife Fund, in conjunction with the Zoological Society of London, has released a report that concludes more than one in four of all wildlife species has been lost since 1970.
Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%, it says. Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says. Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.
This level of extinction has not been seen since the age of the dinosaurs. The Living Planet Index compiled by the Society with the World Wildlife Fund cites marine species as the most impacted:
Some of the worst hit are marine species which saw their numbers plummet by 28% in just 10 years, between 1995 and 2005. Populations of ocean birds have fallen by 30% since the mid 1990s, while land-based populations have dropped by 25%. Among the creatures most seriously affected have been African antelopes, swordfish and hammerhead sharks. Another, the baiji - or Yangtze River Dolphin - may have been lost altogether.
"Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease and where water is in irregular or short supply," said James Leape, World Wildlife Fund.


The report is targeted for a meeting of the Convention of Biodiversity to take place in Bonn, Germany. This is a group of nations that signed an accord in 2002 with the intent to "achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010."

This target is not likely to be achieved as the signatories, according to the Zoological Society, have failed to implement the necessary policies. The World Wildlife Fund also cites climate change as a pending impact that is expected to further reduce biodiversity over the next thirty years.

They are calling on the governments meeting in Bonn to honor their commitments before more species are lost.

LABELS: CLIMATE CHANGE, ENDANGERED SPECIES, ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL WARMING,
REUTERS, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND