Report: Humans Have Wiped out 60% of Animal Populations

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. comprehensive / ˌkɑːmprɪˈhɛnsɪv / (adj) – covering or including a wide range of something

    Scientists conducted a comprehensive study on weather patterns all over the world.

  2. dwindle / ˈdwɪndl̟ / (v) – to become smaller

    Wildlife activists are becoming alarmed because some animal populations are starting to dwindle.

  3. spread like wildfire / spred laɪk ˈwajəldˌfajɚ / (idiom) – to spread quickly

    Diseases can spread like wildfire in very crowded places.

  4. in light of (something) / ɪn laɪt əv / (idiom) – due to something

    In light of the spreading disease, the government gave warnings to be more careful in public places.

  5. stem the tide (of something) / stem ðə taɪd / (idiom) – to slow down or stop something

    It will take a global effort to stem the tide of animal population decline.


Read the text below.

Sixty percent of animal populations have been eliminated since 1970 due to human activities, according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The ZSL prepared a comprehensive report on the status of animal populations around the globe for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report presented data gathered on more than 16,000 populations of several species from 1970 to 2014. According to the report, wildlife populations have significantly declined during the period of observation and are continuing to dwindle until present.

The report also revealed that some human activities were the major reasons for the drop in the populations observed. The first, which caused the greatest damage, is the destruction of animal habitats to accommodate farming. The second is killing animals for food. Currently, 300 species of mammals being consumed for food are headed for extinction, while marine animals are being threatened by overfishing in 50% of the world’s oceans.

Irresponsible disposal of chemical wastes has also led to contamination of marine wildlife and is now threatening to eliminate half of the world’s killer whales. Lastly, transporting and selling animals from country to country have caused some diseases and pests to spread like wildfire and kill animals in destination countries.

In light of the new data, the WWF said that old solutions such as building wildlife sanctuaries are no longer enough to stem the tide of wildlife decline. The organization recommended the creation of laws and major changes, which will help preserve animal populations, in private companies. In addition, the WWF called on individuals to limit their meat consumption.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that the current solutions (e.g. making wildlife sanctuaries) are no longer enough to stop animal population decline? Why or why not?
• Aside from the ones proposed by the WWF, what are other possible solutions to stop animal population decline? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you think would happen if animal population declines further?
• Do you think your country has enough initiatives to address animal population decline? Why or why not?