Two-Thirds of Wild Animals to be Extinct by 2020

December 27, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. wildlife / ˈwaɪldˌlaɪf / (n.) – animals that live in their natural home (e.g. in forests, in the ocean)
Example: The government closed the forest to humans to protect its wildlife.

2. attribute / əˈtrɪb yut / (v.) – to relate something as the cause of an event, emotion, etc.
Example: Scientists attribute whale population decline to illegal hunting.

3. conservation / ˌkɒn sərˈveɪ ʃən / (n.) – protection of natural resources
Example: Children should be made aware of conservation projects at an early age.

4.  mass / mæs / (adj.) – relating to a huge number of people or animals
Example: Millions of birds flew south during the mass migration.

5. sensationalist / sɛnˈseɪ ʃə nə lɪst /  (adj.) – using attention-grabbing information to excite or shock people
Example: It is not good to write sensationalist articles.


Read the text below.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London reported that two-thirds of Earth's wild animals could be extinct by the year 2020.

The alarming results were reported in a study called the Living Planet Index, which is a compilation of data on 3,706 species of animals gathered from 1970 to 2012. The data revealed that, since 1970, 58% of all animals monitored in the study have already disappeared. This is equivalent to 2% dying every year. If animals continue to disappear at this rate, we are in danger of losing 67% of wild animals by the year 2020.

The researchers attributed the wildlife decline to habitat loss and pollution, all of which are the results of human activities.  Farming and logging have made majority of lands unlivable for wild animals. Improper disposal of industrial wastes are also contaminating the habitats and food sources of species such as whales and vultures. Moreover, another study has revealed that illegal hunting and human consumption is leading more than 300 mammal species to their extinction.

The huge degree of damage that these human activities have on animal populations has led WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor to call the population decline “the sixth mass extinction.”

However, though scientists agree on the high impact of human activities on wildlife, some have raised criticisms against the study. For instance, a scientist not involved in the study said that the conclusions may be reported in a sensationalist way, saying that it is impossible to predict such a massive decline. He also pointed out that the study seems to disregard successful efforts to increase the populations of some endangered species. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that the study’s results are exaggerated (i.e., too unrealistic)? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, is it right for scientists to lie about the results of studies if it will bring about a greater good? Justify your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you think humans can cause their own extinction? Discuss.
·         In what ways can humans reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment?

December 27, 2016