March 2018 saw the last male northern white rhinoceros die, leaving only two females of the species in the entire world. The Spix’s macaw that inspired the parrot Blu from the movie “Rio”, has gone extinct in the wild, and only 60 to 80 birds remain in captivity. The vaquita porpoise was only discovered in 1958, but they’re already on the brink of extinction with an estimated 30 left in the wild.
Headlines like these keep coming. Experts are estimating that we are losing 10,000 to 100,000 species a year. Deemed by scientists as the Holocene, or sixth mass extinction, it is happening now at the hands of a single species: Man.
Habitat loss is the greatest threat to the world’s variety of life today. Tropical forests contain at least half of the Earth’s species, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, and we’ve already lost half our rainforests. They’re being converted into agricultural land, or intensively harvested for timber, wood and other forest products — and this is happening at 10 times the rate of any possible level of regrowth.
Killing for food is the next largest cause. Some 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, from chimpanzees to hippos, pangolins and bats. Others, like elephants, rhinos and tigers are being poached ruthlessly for their ivory, coats or body parts to be used in souvenirs, jewelry, or traditional medicines.
Marine animals are not spared; overfishing — coupled with pollution and climate change — are killing our world’s oceans and its (once) abundant sea life. We might soon see more species join the wooly mammoth, passenger pigeon, and the dodo that have already vanished from Earth.
If humans continue tipping the scales of the ecosystem, we will literally be killing ourselves; humans rely on the biodiversity of the planet for food, water, and air. Keeping the balance of the planet’s ecosystem is critical for posterity. Committing to sustainable practices will also help to preserve our future. At Eastspring Investments, we integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in our investment processes. Find out more about www.eastspring.com