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World's Wildlife Plummeting, Human Appetites To Blame

World's Wildlife Plummeting, Human Appetites To Blame

The number of wild animals living on our planet has drastically decreased over the past 40 years, according to research by scientists at the World Wildlife Foundation and the Zoological Society of London.

"Unsustainable human consumption" is to blame — killing creatures for food, whilst polluting and destroying their habitats.

The report suggests populations have halved since 1970, which is a more alarming result than in a report two years ago, notes the BBC. On average, populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by 52%.

Wild forest elephants in Africa could become extinct during our lifetime thanks to poaching and habitat loss, while the number of marine turtles has declined by 80%.

The biggest decline in animal numbers came from developing nations, though conservation efforts in richer nations have shown only small improvements.

Read more from the WWF's 2014 Living Planet Report here.

Forest elephants — Photo: Richard Ruggiero/USFWS

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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