GR: Worth noting that even in developed countries with slowing population growth, wildlife decline continues. In Britain, many people do small things to make their gardens more wildlife friendly. However, habitat loss and farming continue to cut carrying capacity for most wildlife species. Hedgehog and other species’ declines are accelerating, suggesting that many wildlife populations are no longer self-sustaining and are falling toward extinction. The Guardian story below includes ideas and links for steps to take to support wildlife. Unfortunately, it does not mention the big step, human population control. Without drastic efforts to cut our needs and begin returning the land and seas to their natural state, most of Earth’s wildlife species will disappear (more on human population impact).
Britain’s hedgehog population has dropped from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than one million today. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy
“The plight of the hedgehog in Britain appears to be worsening, with a new survey revealing a further decline in garden sightings.
“The spiky creature was once a common sight, with the population estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. But that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade.
“The latest survey, conducted with more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, found that 51% of people did not see a hedgehog at all in 2016, up from 48% in 2015. Just 12% saw a hedgehog regularly.
“The poll’s result is in line with an in-depth analysis in 2015 by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species which found urban populations of hedgehogs had fallen by up to a third since 2000 and rural populations had declined by at least a half. Results from a citizen science survey run by the RSPB in June 2016 also revealed a falling number of sightings.
“The decline is not entirely understood but the main factors are thought to be the loss of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside – where farming has intensified – as well as road deaths. The fragmentation of habitat is also a problem as hedgehogs roam up to a mile every night to look for food and mates. A possible rise in badger numbers, which can eat hedgehogs, has also been suggested as a possible cause.” –Damian Carrington (More: Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline | Environment | The Guardian.)
GR: The needs and desires of humans cause extinction, pollution, desertification, ocean acidification, and global warming. Failure is certain if we tackle any or all of these without first working to reduce the human population.
“In a year filled with many…memorable…milestones, 2016 closed with a truly depressing one, as giraffes were added to a list of “vulnerable” species headed towards eventual extinction for the first time. Their numbers have declined precipitously over the last three decades, according to a report released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which maintains endangered species lists.
“The culprit? You guessed it—human population pressures.
“Habitat destruction due to human activity—such as logging, farming, and armed conflicts—is pushing giraffe populations to the breaking point throughout the African continent. An ever-expanding human population, largely unchecked due to a huge unmet need for family planning, is having a frighteningly damaging effect on these majestic animals.
“U.S. funding of international family planning programs has the greatest impact in the developing world, where women desperately want to limit their family size but lack the means to do so. All ten of the countries with the highest total fertility rates are currently located on the African continent. Home to some of the world’s most iconic wildlife, these nations are struggling to meet the needs of their human inhabitants while protecting the natural habitats that these animals depend on.
“And sadly, the implementation of the Global Gag Rule has thrown another huge obstacle into the path of slowing population growth throughout the developing world. It deeply undermines progress made towards smaller families and more sustainable communities. Humans and wildlife alike will suffer the consequences if we don’t keep fighting to make international family planning a funding priority.+ –Natalie Widel (Source: Human habitat destruction is decimating giraffe populations.)
GR: With great sorrow, we watch as poachers eliminate elephants from the Earth.
HAMBURG, Germany, Dec. 22, 2016 — Elephants continued to be slaughtered for their ivory this year. More than 18 tons of illegal ivory, plus 949 elephant tusks and more than 3,000 pieces were reportedly seized in 2016, with at least 15 large seizures in excess of 500 kilograms. Most large shipments were intercepted in Vietnam, although huge amounts were also found in Malaysia, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Spain, Austria and Germany.
“It is a sad fact that practically no day goes by without dozens of elephants being killed by poachers and every single week this year enforcers discovered illegal ivory somewhere in the world,” said Rikkert Reijnen, Director of the Wildlife Trade Program for International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “And this is just the tip of the iceberg as only a small fraction of the illegal ivory on the market is being intercepted.” –International Fund for Animals (Continue Reading: 2016: Another fatal year for elephants)
GR: I have often lamented the lack of ecological knowledge among our leaders and news media. Here’s a story by Joe Bish that illustrates the problem of ignorance among reporters.
“If you are like me, you may often wonder why such a great percentage of your fellow citizens do not fully appreciate the ecological crisis. But then, you read a report such as published by NPR below: this odious gem was printed in the wake of the recent World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report.
“I initially guffawed at the temerity of the reporter to sow doubt about the massive publication’s authenticity, mangle Stuart Pimm’s sentiments, and finally force-feed the reader a good dose of artificial happy pills. However, the more I read the article, the more insidious it became — for the simple reason it just does not convey the dire nature of what WWF published. It’s simply terrible reporting — and therein, perhaps, is one reason so few truly grasp the predicament we face. Recall this is an NPR story that probably reached multiple millions of people.
“The reporter, Rebecca Hersher, seems to have plenty of experience — see below — just hardly any that pertains to ecology. Therefore, she is left with the standard artifice of modern journalism: to manufacture controversy and look for “another point of view.”
“NOTE: Hersher came to NPR from Nature Medicine, where she wrote about biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, and started her career in science, with a B.A. in Neurobiology from Harvard University in 2011. She has been a staff member of NPR’s All Things Considered. She was one of the producers of NPR’s Peabody-winning coverage of the 2014 Liberia Ebola epidemic (work that won her the Edward R. Murrow award for use of sound.) During her time at NPR, she also embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan on an assignment with NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.”–Joe Bish, Population Media Center (NPR Poo-Poos Catastrophic Wildlife Collapse; Issues Happy Pills Instead).