Rising human activity is destroying global vertebrate wildlife populations, which have seen a 58 percent drop in the last 40 years, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The report titled "Living Planet Report 2016: Risk and Resilience in a New Era" scanned the population decline in wildlife between 1970 and 2012.
Covering 14,000 vertebrate populations of 3,700 species during the period, the report also took inputs from the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network.
Slamming the rising human activity as responsible for the declining numbers, the WWF report warns that wildlife populations will drop further by two-thirds in 2020 unless immediate intervention is made.
The report notes the drastic decline in the numbers reported in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The most palpable drop in animal population has been in the lakes, rivers and freshwater systems by 81 percent.
Wildlife Population Decline: 'A Wake-Up Call'
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF, says the report offers a wake-up call that for a considerable number of years, humans have treated Earth "as if it's disposable."
"We created this problem," adds Roberts. "The good news is that we can fix it. It requires updating our approach to food, energy, transportation, and how we live our lives. We share the same planet. We rely on it for our survival. So we are all responsible for its protection."
The WWF report looks at human activity as an all-pervasive term denoting habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change.
"It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on," says Mike Barrett, head of science and policy at WWF.
Main Drivers Of Destruction
According to the WWF report, increasing demand for food and energy is augmenting threats to wildlife and indirectly hurting human life as well.
Blaming rising global food production as the primary cause for destroying habitats and overexploitating wildlife, the report notes that agriculture has taken up one-third of Earth's land area and is consuming 70 percent of all freshwater.
This is not only driving animals to doom but is also hurting humanity indirectly, as the invasion of natural resources goes unabated.
Calling a rethink on the part of individuals, businesses and governments in terms of production and consumption, the report asks for a systemic change whereby a higher value can be attached to the natural environment.
WWF's Living Planet Report is a biennial exercise that serves as an assessment of the state of the world's wildlife. It studies thousands of species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, forming 6 percent of the total vertebrate species in the world. The data used in the research includes peer-reviewed studies, statistics from the government and surveys by NGOs.