In different ways both rich and poor countries share the blame for a halving in wildlife populations since 1970. Over this time the world’s human population has neatly doubled. Africa has the sharpest increase as I recall.
Most of the decline in mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians over the past 40 years has occurred in poor countries; populations have fallen by 58%.
The rich countries destroyed their wildlife before 1970! The poorer countries are just catching up and have not learned any lessons.
In poorer countries wildlife is usually destroyed because of poaching (for example the elephant for its ivory) and habitat loss because of increased human population and increased industrial activity. Also wild cats like the lion are killed because they interfere with farming. The cheetah in Africa lives on farmland. The population of forest elephants of west and central Africa have declined by 60% over this period. The forest elephant is restricted to around 7% of its previous distribution.
The tiger is poached for its body parts and the reserves it lives on are probably too small and there is too much human activity inside and on the borders of the reserves. Wild tiger numbers have fallen from around 100,000 in 1910 to about 3,200 today.
The interesting reason why rich countries currently share the blame for the destruction of wildlife is because they have a much higher “ecological footprint” than poor nations. An ecological footprint is the number of hectares of land needed to sustain the lifestyle of the average person. It varies dramatically between countries.
Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have the highest ecological footprints or have the worst indirect impact on wildlife. These countries cause wildlife loss in the poorer countries by, for example, importing products such as palm oil from poor countries. These countries deforest their landscape to make palm oil plantations. Much wildlife lives in forests.
Britain is 28th in the league of worst ecological footprints. Each British resident unknowingly needs five hectares to produce the products and services they consume. Kuwaitis require 10 hectares.
The USA resident requires 7 hectares. East Timor residents require half a hectare.
The report from the Zoological Society of London states:
“If all the people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets”.
Think about that for a bit.