Although World Animal Day just passed, the outlook of wildlife diversity and welfare may continue to look bleak.
Just a week before World Animal Day on October 4, Royal Dutch Shell has announced they will abandon Arctic drilling. World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has long opposed drilling in this Arctic region, where a spill would have enormous impacts on wildlife, fisheries and local people. Shell’s previous attempts to drill in the Chukchi Sea ended badly, from damaged vessels to malfunctioning safety equipment to an on board fire. Most notably, Shell lost control of its drilling rig in January 2013 while towing it from Alaska to Seattle for maintenance. The rig grounded on a pristine island in the Gulf of Alaska. Despite the great news for environmentalists, human activities continue to threaten wildlife diversity.
Research has found 2.4 bird and mammal pollinator species per year have moved toward the extinction category. About 90 percent of flowering plants are pollinated by animals and birds, and humans rely on many of these plant species for food, livestock forage, medicine and materials. “It shows a worrying trend that may be impacting negatively on global pollination services, estimated to be worth more than US$215 billion,” stated World Conservation Monitoring Center.
Moreover, WWF warns against rising risk to almost two thirds of natural World Heritage Sites in Africa. The threat level relates to active operations by extractive companies, or intrusion that may come as a result of concessions for exploration of minerals or oil and gas overlapping these sites. The new assessment produced by WWF, Aviva Investors and Investec Asset Management puts potential global risk at highest level yet of 31 percent. The assessment corresponds with the 2014 Living Planet Index (LPI) which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The report indicated that there is a 52% decline since 1970, which means the population sizes of vertebrate species have halved over the last 40 years.
At our current living habits, the average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it, said WWF.