Our planet’s wildlife is in crisis

The millions of different species on our planet are essential for so many of the most important things in our lives. 

This complex web of life provides the natural systems we depend on – from clean air and water to fertile soils and a stable climate. It gives us food, medicines and materials, and supports millions of jobs. And it also inspires us, making our lives richer in so many ways. 

But our planet’s wildlife is in crisis – numbers have fallen by more than half since 1970, and species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate.

We need to reverse this loss of nature and create a future where wildlife and people thrive again.

What can you do?

Disappearing species

Our wildlife's fate is in the hands of just one species: Homo sapiens.

Human activities threaten wildlife in two main ways: by destroying and damaging the places where wildlife lives, and by using them in ways that are unsustainable.  

Vast areas of natural habitat continue to be lost to agriculture, urban sprawl, mining and infrastructure, or are suffering from the effects of pollution, introduced species that often out-compete native wildlife, and, increasingly, climate change.

Meanwhile, many species are declining because of unsustainable levels of hunting, fishing and harvesting. Others are being driven toward extinction to support the international wildlife trade, or killed when they come into direct conflict with humans and livestock.

1970: Each report looks at the size of over 16,000 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, showing wildlife population trends from 1970 onwards.
1980: Within one decade, wildlife populations had declined by around 15%.
1990: By the 1990s, wildlife populations had declined by almost 40%.
2000: The decline in wildlife populations was 50% by the millennium.
2014: Wildlife populations declined by 60% on average from 1970 until 2014.

We can turn things around

Tiger numbers are increasing for the first time in over a century, the Irrawaddy dolphin population is rising after decades of decline, and more and more countries in Asia are banning sales of elephant ivory.

People have benefited too. Protecting forests and other crucial habitats helps conserve the natural living resources that many communities depend on. Sensitively managed eco-tourism is also bringing much needed income to many developing countries.

These are positive signs and are helping to put us on the right path to a brighter future for people and nature. But we need to do much more to halt and reverse the decline in the world’s wildlife. Ultimately, our own well-being and survival depend upon it.

"The efforts of WWF and others have already helped achieve some big successes for wildlife."

Margaret Kinnaird, Wildlife Practice Leader

Up for a challenge?

Take our Zero to Wildlife Hero Challenge!

Subscribe now to embark on a 5-week journey that will empower you with simple yet impactful tips and lifestyle changes you can make to help protect the incredible species we share our planet with! Every action adds up, no matter where you are - and you too can go from Zero to Wildlife Hero today!


What we're doing

We want to see wildlife thriving. We work with many partners to achieve this, seeking to protect plant and animal species by tackling the root causes of the many serious threats.

Supporting protected areas

We’re working with local people and government agencies to increase the coverage of protected areas. We're also helping to strengthen the way protected areas are managed, and improving connections between them so wildlife can move more freely.

Clamping down on the illegal wildlife trade

We’re tackling the illegal trade and over-exploitation of wildlife by strengthening regulations and making sure they’re properly enforced.

Influencing consumer choice

We are influencing markets and consumer choices that drive demand for wildlife products.

The WWF Wildlife Team

Our experts from around the world work together to tackle the global loss of wildlife. Leading the team – called the WWF Wildlife Practice – is Margaret Kinnaird, who has over 30 years’ conservation experience in Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya and the United States.  

Margaret Kinnaird, Wildlife Practice Leader

Our global goal

By 2030, we want to see 30% of the world’s surface managed in a way that takes account of wildlife through protected areas like national parks or community-run conservation areas. 


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