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World ‘on verge of first mass extinction event since the age of the dinosaurs’


The world is on the verge of the first ‘mass extinction’ since the age of the dinosaurs, according to the most comprehensive survey of wildlife ever carried out.

The 2016 Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) found that around 70 per cent of the word’s mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians are on course to be wiped out over the fifty year period ending in 2020.

This is an average decline of 2 per cent each year and there is no sign that the pace will slow.

The report documents how human activities such as deforestation, overfishing and pollution are pushing species into rapid decline as humans take over the world.

The report highlighted several wildlife groups which have been significantly impacted by human activity in recent years including African elephants in Tanzania, maned wolves in Brazil and US salamanders.

The report which is published every two years monitors the state of global wildlife.

Mike Barrett, Director of Science and Policy at WWF-UK said: “In the four-and-half-billion-year history of our planet there have been five mass extinction events – when around 90 per cent of species are made extinct.

“But this is the first time this is being entirely driven by one species – humans.”

Mr Barrett urged the international community to redouble its efforts to stop species decline.

He said: “In 2010 the international community pledged to have halted the loss of biological diversity by 2020 – so we’re clearly off track.

“But the key point here is that none of this is inevitable we have the solutions and we have the understanding to stop the decline.”