More than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. As new species evolve to fit ever changing ecological niches, older species fade away. But the rate of extinction is far from constant. At least a handful of times in the last 500 million years, 50 to more than 90 percent of all species on earth have disappeared in a geological blink of the eye.

We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-off’s since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by 2050.

We call this current event the 6th Mass Extinction, and what is significant about this is that a large number of these species are wildlife; as such unabated this would greatly effect the economy – especially the nature based and eco-tourism industries.

Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans. In fact, 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from a perfect storm of human led or influenced activities, namely ; habitat loss (conversion to farmland and mining); introduction of exotic species; poaching of wildlife and global warming.

The number of wildlife was on track to reduce by over 66% by 2020, compared to 1970 as an example:

Giraffe in 1985 was 167 000 and in 2017 – 96 500
Rhino in 1970 was 110 000 and in 2017 – 23 000
Lion in 1990 was 50 000 and in 2017 – 20 000

“We are indeed experiencing the greatest wave of extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.“ UN Convention on Biological Diversity.


© 2019 | Community Conservation Fund Africa