An extract on #itgirl
The loss of species from ecological communities, defaunation, is primarily driven by human activity. This has resulted in empty forests, ecological communities depleted of large vertebrates. In the Quaternary extinction event, the mass die-off of megafaunal variety coincided with the appearance of humans, suggesting a human influence. One hypothesis is that humans hunted large mammals, such as the woolly mammoth, into extinction.
Various species are predicted to become extinct in the near future, among them the rhinoceros, primates, pangolins, and giraffes. Hunting alone threatens hundreds of mammalian species around the world. Scientists claim that the growing demand for meat is contributing to biodiversity loss as this is a significant driver of deforestation and habitat destruction; species-rich habitats, such as significant portions of the Amazon rainforest, are being converted to agricultural land for meat production. According to the World Wildlife Fund's 2016 Living Planet Index, global wildlife populations have declined 58% since 1970, primarily due to habitat destruction, over-hunting and pollution. They project that if current trends continue, 67% of wildlife could disappear by 2020. Another influence is over-hunting and poaching, which can reduce the overall population of game animals, especially those located near villages, as in the case of peccaries. The effects of poaching can especially be seen in the ivory trade with African elephants. Marine mammals are at risk from entanglement from fishing gear, notably cetaceans, with discard mortalities ranging from 65,000 to 86,000 individuals annually.
Several courses of actions are being taken globally, notably the Convention on Biological Diversity, otherwise known as the Rio Accord, which includes 189 signatory countries that are focused on identifying endangered species and habitats. Another notable conservation organization is the IUCN, which has a membership of over 1,200 governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Recent extinctions can be directly attributable to human influences. The IUCN characterizes 'recent' extinction as those that have occurred past the cut-off point of 1500, and around 80 mammal species have gone extinct since that time and 2015. Some species, such as the Pre David's deer are extinct in the wild, and survive solely in captive populations. Other species, such as the Florida panther, are ecologically extinct, surviving in such low numbers that they essentially have no impact on the ecosystem. Other populations are only locally extinct (extirpated), still existing elsewhere, but reduced in distribution, as with the extinction of gray whales in the Atlantic.