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Half of India’s wildlife in danger of extinction: Living Planet Report 2016

With wildlife disappearing at an “unprecedented” pace across the world, the Living Planet Report 2016 identifies India as an ecological black-spot where around half of the wildlife lives in the danger of being wiped out.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2016 07:29 IST
Chetan Chauhan
A one-horned rhinoceros eats corn in an open enclosure at Bengal Safari park on the outskirts of Siliguri.
A one-horned rhinoceros eats corn in an open enclosure at Bengal Safari park on the outskirts of Siliguri.(AFP Photo)

With wildlife disappearing at an “unprecedented” pace across the world, the Living Planet Report 2016 identifies India as an ecological black spot where around half of the wildlife lives in the danger of being wiped out.

The biennial report that tracks over 14,000 vertebrate populations of over 3,700 species from across the world highlights the pressure on water and land India faces because of unsustainable human activities.

Around 70% of surface water is polluted and 60% of ground water will reach critical stage -- where it cannot be replenished -- in the next one decade, the report prepared by World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) with other research institutions said.

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The biggest reason for contamination is industrial and municipal waste.

It also pointed out that one-fourth of India’s total land is facing desertification and about a third of land is getting degraded primarily because of depleting forest cover.

“Our consumption patterns and the way we look at our natural world are constantly shaping the future of our planet…We need to come together as a global community and address the threats to biodiversity to protect our environment, as well as our economic and social structures,” said Mr. Ravi Singh, secretary general and CEO, WWF-India.

The Living Planet Index showed that 58% overall decline in vertebrate population abundance between 1970 to 2012. “Population sizes of vertebrate species have, on average, dropped by more than half in little more than 40 years. The data shows an average annual decline of 2% and there is no sign yet that this rate will decrease,” the report said.

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It also said that global wildlife populations could decline by an average of 67% between 1970 - 2020, as a result of human activities, it said, adding that the populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This places the world on a trajectory of a potential two-thirds decline within a span of the half-century ending in 2020.

“Wildlife is disappearing within our lifetimes at an unprecedented rate,” said Dr. Marco Lambertini, International Director General, WWF. “This is not just about the wonderful species we all love; biodiversity forms the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans. We have the tools to fix this problem and we need to start using them now if we are serious about preserving a living planet for our own survival and prosperity.”

Wild Asiatic elephants graze in Kaziranga national park, east of Gawahati. (AP Photo)

Looking ahead, 2020 is also a year of great promise as commitments made under the Paris climate deal will kick in, and the first environmental actions under the globe’s new sustainable development plan will come into force.

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