We hate to be a downer, but did you know that the last 40 years has seen half of the world’s wild animals disappear? A troubling reality, made all the more awkward by the fact that we humans are very much responsible.
As was brought to light by the latest edition of the Living Planet Report, wildlife populations around the globe have declined by 52 per cent on average since 1970, with our need for land and resources (not to mention our grisly hunting and poaching habits) entirely to blame. And while we often hear about lions, tigers, rhinos and elephants feeling the pinch, reptiles haven’t escaped the cut.
Another telling study found that nearly one in five of our estimated 10,000 species of lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodiles and other reptiles are threatened with extinction. Half of all freshwater turtles are all but gone, while the likes of three species are quite possibly already extinct. To sum up the findings – out of the estimated 19 per cent of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12 per cent are critically endangered, 41 per cent endangered and 47 per cent vulnerable. Yikes.
Two major, man-made forces wiping out reptiles are farming and deforestation in tropical regions. Although they may appear hardy (and often reside in the most extreme of places), many reptiles are highly specialised and sensitive to even the slightest environmental change.
It’s a worry, because the planet really needs to keep these guys around. Having first appeared about 300 million years ago, they play countless crucial roles in the world’s ecosystems – both as predators and as prey.
So what we can do to help? The professionals say that as consumers we can reduce our impact on wildlife by recycling, opting for sustainable products at the supermarket and reducing the amount of meat and dairy we gulp down. Generally, we should also be getting our butts outside and reconnecting with nature – more green, less screen, we say.
Image Source: ARC