WWF: Africa has enormous responsibility to environment

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians & reptiles fell by 52% between 1970 and 2010.

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell by 52% between 1970 and 2010. Picture: WWF/

JOHANNESBURG - The World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet report, released on Tuesday, reveals that in less than two human generations, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish has fallen by half.

The report says globally, habitat loss, degradation, hunting and climate change are the main threats, contributing to a decline of 52 percent between 1970 and 2010.

WWF South Africa CEO, Dr Morné du Plessis says, 'Being among the top 10 most biodiverse countries in the world, South Africa has an enormous burden of responsibility. Yet, indicators are that urbanisation in Africa will double by 2010 and, with it, more reliance on our natural resources.

"This makes it imperative that we be vigilant and proactive about tangible and sustainable solutions. Business as usual will not stop the decline."


The report revealed Cape Town, the Global Earth Hour Capital 2014, is working to reduce energy use by installing household solar water heaters and retrofitting streetlights with energy efficient technology.

Mondi, the paper pulp and packaging company has also taken the lead in mapping, protecting and rehabilitating critical wetland, allowing commercial tree plantations and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, to live side by side.

In stark contrast, the report showed oil extraction in Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is unlikely to deliver real development, saying poverty and inequality indicators in the Niger Delta have worsened since the discovery of oil.

In addition, the around 880 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild - about 200 of them in Virunga National Park are now at increased risk.

Oil concessions have been allocated across 85% of the park, threatening its protected status and World Heritage Site listing.

Gorillas are among the 218 mammal species found in Virunga, along with 706 bird species, 109 reptiles, 78 amphibians and more than 2,000 species of plants.

"In a stable situation where the park is properly protected, its economic value could be more than US $1billion a year while responsible development of industries like tourism within the park could provide jobs for 45,000 people," the report said.


Between 1961 and 2010 the global human population increased from 3.1 billion to nearly 7 billion, reducing the available biocapacity per capita from 3.2 to 1.7 gha.

With world population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100, the amount of biocapacity available for each human being will shrink.

Many poorer countries - including India, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo - had an ecological footprint that was well within the planet's ability to absorb their demands.