According to the latest researches, globally, 52% of wildlife has been lost in the past 40 years. In Africa as well, the variety and
abundance of wildlife is shrinking fast as human population grows and encroaches on the once wild and pristine landscapes. While
illegal hunting (known as “poaching”) still runs rampant despite government crackdowns, the spread of logging and agriculture
contributes even more to the decline of many species of large mammals. In addition, many wildlife mammals are left orphaned with
bleak chances of rehabilitation.
Earth is most likely experiencing its sixth mass extinction. It has been through five such catastrophes before, but this is the first one in human history — and the first one with human fingerprints.
Extinction of Species
· Every 20 minutes, the world adds another 3,500 human lives but loses one or more entire species of animal or plant life - at least
27,000 species per year. (Source: PBS)
· At the present rates of extinction, as many as 20% of the world's 7-15 million species could be gone in the next 30 years. This rate of extinction has been unprecedented since the disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago (Source: WWF).
· Human population reached 1 billion by 1800 and over 6 billion by 2000. Conservative estimates predict that our population will
reach 9 billion people by 2050.
· The hourly destruction of an estimated 240 acres of natural habitat is directly attributable to the growth in human populations.
· 80% of the decline in biological diversity is caused by habitat destruction.
The African Elephant
· 5 -10 million African elephants existed in 1930. Less than 1% of that number (approximately 600,000) remained when they were
added to the international list of the most endangered species in 1989. (Source: CITES)
· Demand for ivory combined with loss of habitat from human settlement led to these huge declines in population.
The African Lion
· The African lions' numbers are diminishing rapidly due to habitat destruction, persecution by livestock farmers outside of
protected areas, and human greed. 10,000-15,000 free-roaming African lions remain, down from 50,000 a decade ago.
· The willingness of Asians and Westerners to pay handsomely for lion head trophies combined with the urgent need for revenue among African locals means that these great predators are increasingly hunted for sport.
· Trophy hunting not only depletes the population of the African lion, but threatens its gene pool as well. Killing the dominant male of a pride (normally the target of a trophy hunt) sets off a chain of instinctive behavior in which the subsequent dominant male kills all the young of the previous male (6-8 estimated deaths result from each male shot).
Plight of Rhinos
· Of the dozens of species of rhino that once roamed the earth, only 5 now exist.
· Where there were once over 100,000 black rhinos on the plains of Africa, there are now only 2,707 on the entire continent.
· The staggering decimation of the rhino population is due to poaching, to satisfy the demand for the horn for use in Eastern traditional medicines and as dagger handles.
· Prices up to US$40,000 a kilo have been recorded for the much prized rhino horn - more than 5 times the price of gold.
· In 1900 there were about 100,000 cheetah worldwide - present estimates place their number at 10,000 -15,000 with about one
tenth of those living in captivity.
· Throughout recorded history a cheetah pelt was a badge of wealth for its human owner. The animal was killed for its skin by some and captured for its hunting skills by others. More recently, increasing human populations have squeezed cheetahs and their prey from their natural habitats.