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Global wildlife populations have declined by nearly two-thirds since 1970, according to a new report.

The "catastrophic" decline in wildlife has been caused by deforestation, unsustainable agriculture and illegal wildlife trading, according to the annual World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Living Planets Report.

"We can’t ignore the evidence – these serious declines in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unravelling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure," said Marco Lambertini, the director-general of WWF International, in a statement.

"From the fish in our oceans and rivers to bees which play a crucial role in our agricultural production, the decline of wildlife affects directly nutrition, food security and the livelihoods of billions of people."

The comprehensive index, provided by the Zoological Society of London, measured 20,811 populations of 4,392 species and shows there was an average 68% decline in populations between 1970 and 2016.

This destruction of wildlife, which is continuing at an unprecedented rate, is contributing to emerging zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, the report says.

Climate change is also expected to accelerate this problem, which scientists say they've attempted to highlight for decades.

The decline is most significant in Latin America, where there has been an alarming 94% decline in wildlife populations. The most impacted populations there are amphibians, reptiles and fish.

This is followed by Africa where there has been a 65% decline in wildlife populations.

Freshwater species are also of particular concern with almost one in three species in extinction, the report says.


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