Half of the Earth's populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and birds were lost over the past 40 years, the World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday. Tropical regions, particularly in Latin America, saw the biggest declines in vertebrate wildlife.
There are several reasons why the populations are dwindling, including habitat loss, exploitation through hunting and fishing, and climate change. This decline happened much faster than previously thought, Reuters says, with the last report from two years ago putting it at 28 percent between 1970 and 2008. Published every two years, the WWF's Living Planet Report states that the massive amount of trees being cut down and the carbon dioxide being emitted into the air is too much for the planet to handle. "This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.
The Living Planet Index is based on trends in 10,380 populations with 3,038 mammal, amphibian, bird, fish, and reptile species. Read the report here.