The craziness of 2020 has put World Wildlife Conservation Day into perspective for me.
Until this year it was a day I never really paid attention to. Now I am starting to realize that wildlife needs more than just our attention. After all, the scientific consensus says that it was an abused pangolin that carried the original form of COVID-19 – and look how that turned out for us.
And the only reason we came into contact with animals like pangolins is because we advancing dangerously close to their natural habitat.
World Wildlife Conservation Day compels us to look at how badly we’ve damaged the natural world, and to do something about it.
Loss of Species
Since 1970 we have lost nearly 70% of the 21000 species we monitor.
That is a scary notion to consider. What’s even more troubling is that by weight, 60% of the mammals on earth are livestock, 36% are humans and only 4% are wild. Somehow we’ve gotten to a point where we’ve devastated wildlife populations to the extent that they only make up a fraction of the biodiversity on earth.
It was only two years ago that we lost the last male white rhino in Africa – and if that wasn’t a wake up call for all of us, then the prospect of losing thousands of species should terrify us.
Loss of Habitat
Perhaps the biggest driver of all of this has been the loss of habitat that these animals and insects experience.
This is because we as humans have been encroaching ever more rapidly on their territory.
We take over the land for our human settlements, but particularly for animal agriculture, which is responsible for 80% of global deforestation and 70% of freshwater use.
Increase of Pandemics
Not surprisingly that this destruction we’ve left in our wake, has resulted in some serious consequences not only for the wildlife but for ourselves. HIV originated from humans consuming bush meat, specifically chimpanzees, MERS originated from Camels and the current COVID-19 pandemic originated from Pangolins.
Our blatant disregard for wildlife has come back to bite us in the ass , and the consequences have been the tanking of our economies, our civil liberties being revoked and death being wrought upon us.
Nature always has the last laugh, so it’s highly ironic that in destroying wildlife and their habitats, we bring about tragedy on ourselves.
The other side of the coin is this. As mentioned above, we clear away massive stretches of land for animal agriculture. Today one-third of all terrestrial land is used for cropping and animal breeding – and of all the water withdrawn from available freshwater resources, 70% is used for crops or livestock.
Furthermore, there are upwards of 70 billion cows, pigs and chickens that are killed for human consumption every year. These animals are required to consume 80% of all grains produced.
This is consumption on an unprecedented scale, but it’s a consumption that is driven by our own gluttony.
This is why we’re destroying so much land and wildlife habitat. This is why wildlife represents 4% of mammal biomass whereas livestock represents 60%.
Animal agriculture needs to go if we are to save our wildlife.
I started off the post by saying World Wildlife Conservation Day reminds us to take stock of the seriousness of our declining wildlife population, but what are the solutions.
I honestly believe that governments, NGOS and corporations do not have viable solutions. Therefore we the people must act. Change only comes from the grassroots – and the solution to our declining wildlife population is Veganism.
If we stop consuming animal products, then we don’t need 70 Billion livestock per year. Then we don’t need to be destroying one third of our terrestrial land for crops to feed animals.
This will give our natural land time to recover, for these habitats to replenish and our wildlife to come back from the brink.