Living in an Age of Extinction – Which Species Can We Not Afford to Lose?


We are faced with media coverage of wildlife emergencies on a daily basis; the threatened extinction of the tiger in India, the endangered orangutan in Indonesia and the plight of the panda.  These are wildlife emergencies which we have become all too familiar with whilst facing the uncertainty of well loved animals disappearing.

Scientists fear that the real impact of declining wildlife is not in fact the potential extinction of such beautiful and well thought of animals. But the real threat is that of what is been posed to creatures such as ladybirds and worms causing a serious danger to biodiversity.

Last week a report by the WWF confirmed scientists’ declaration that climate change, species decline, population increase and the rapid rate of species extinction mean that we are now in the ‘Anthropocene’, a geological age of extinction when humans dominate ecosystems.  The WWF report outlined statistics on the world’s wildlife population, showing a dramatic reduction in numbers across a wide range of species, with vertebrate numbers declining by over 50% over the last four decades.  Some populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have suffered even bigger losses, with the report stating that biodiversity loss has now reached ‘critical levels.’  But it’s the creatures that provide the most natural capital, or ‘ecosystem services’ causing the greatest concern to scientists.

Three quarters of the world’s food production is thought to be dependent on bees and other pollinators such as hoverflies.  Despite how cute pandas are, it is worms that are churning up our waste and taking it into the soil for nutrient conversion, and despite how stunning a tiger is, it is bats that catch mosquitos and keep malaria rates down.

It is widely acknowledged that the blame sits with unsustainable human consumption – which is damaging ecosystems – creating climate change and destroying habitats at a far faster rate than previously thought.