World’s Vertebrate Population Dropped by 60 Percent Since 1970

The population of the planet’s vertebrates has dropped an average of 60 percent since 1970, according to a report by the WWF conservation organization.

The most striking decline in vertebrate population was in the tropics in South and Central America, with an 89 percent loss compared to 1970. Freshwater species have also significantly fallen — down 83 percent in that period.

The Living Planet Index, provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and included in the WWF Living Planet 2018 report, tracked the population of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians around the world between 1970 and 2014, the latest year for which data was available.

Other examples of wildlife populations that have dropped include:

  • The hedgehog, which has declined 75 percent between 2002 and 2014 in urban areas in the U.K.
  • The grey partridge, which has fallen by 85 percent between 1970 and 2004.
  • The African grey parrot population in southwest Ghana, which has decreased by 98 percent between 1992 and 2014.
  • Additionally, since 1950, almost 6 billion tons of fish and invertebrates have been taken from the oceans.

“There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous future for people on a planet with a destabilized climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity, the web of life that sustains us all,” WWF Director General Marco Lambertin wrote in the report, which included contributions from more than 50 experts from around the world.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Rachel Elbaum