A BBC research claims that around a third of all wild animals are used by humans as food, medicine, or pets, putting nearly half of them in danger of going extinct. Even though humans have always been at the top of the food chain, this is the first time that researchers have put a number on it. According to their estimates, we have an impact that is up to 300 times bigger than that of the top predators.

“We were shocked by the scope and size of what we discovered. Animals are used by humans in an astonishing variety of ways, but we must work towards global human-nature connections that are sustainable”, according to Dr. Rob Cooke of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

The research is based on analysis of data on almost 50,000 different wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that humans harvest for different reasons. 14,663 species of vertebrates, or one-third of all species, were found to be utilised or traded by humans, and 39% of them are in danger of going extinct.

The journal Communications Biology has published the study’s findings. The Anthropocene, a period during which human activity has predominated affects on climate and the environment, is about to start, according to the BBC study.

The natural world has been shaped by domesticated animals, which currently make up the bulk of animal species on land. There will be “profound consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem function” if wild animals are overfished in the future, the researchers said.

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