Nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species that we know and love, and many more that remain to be discovered.
Over thousands of years humans have upset the balance of nature, and as a result the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since the dinosaurs were lost over 60 million years ago. Unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, human activity is the source of the rapid extinction of species in the world of today.
Earth Day, held on 22 April, will therefore have the theme “Protect Our Species”, because if we do not act now, extinction may be the most enduring legacy of mankind.
These facts from the Earth Day website really bring the crisis to the fore:
- All species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods (insects and arachnids), fish, crustaceans, corals and other cnidarians, and plants have declined; in many cases, severely.
- A new study has suggested that insect populations have decreased by more than 75% in Germany over the last 28 years. This is very alarming: 80% of wild plants rely on bees and other insects for pollination, and 60% of bird species rely on insects for food.
- Habitat destruction, exploitation and climate change are driving the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population.
- Primates, our closest animal relatives, are under extraordinary threat. Close to 60% of the world’s 504 primate species are threatened with extinction, and 75% of our primate species are in severe population decline.
- Worldwide, more than 650,000 marine mammals are caught or seriously injured by fishing gear annually.
- Our big cats, including tigers, leopards and cheetahs are in critical decline, and many will become extinct in the next decade. The world’s cats are exploited for their body parts and skins. China remains the world’s largest market for these critically endangered species along with the black rhino and other species.