The biggest threat to wildlife comes from what we eat and how we make it.
Indeed, food production is responsible for at least two-thirds of the overall loss of wildlife species. Wildlife is now disappearing 1,000 times faster than what is considered to be a normal rate.
Take the Sumatran elephant. Down to their last 2,500, their forest homes are being destroyed to make way for intensive palm plantations. It’s not just about the palm oil ending up in so many biscuits, cosmetics and other products. It’s about the palm kernel, which is being used as cheap animal feed, fueling factory farming and driving further deforestation.
Penguins are being pushed to the brink of extinction, too. Why? Because we feed our factory-farmed animals the very same fish which make up the penguin’s diet. And jaguars in Brazil are left with nowhere to live and little to eat as monocultures of soya take over the land, once again destined to feed animals suffering on intensive farms.
Sustaining a Solution
We ignore these warning signs at our peril. We are now, according to some scientists, in the beginnings of a “mass extinction.” So, as the environment is being polluted and wildlife is being squeezed out, all in the name of cheap food, one species in particular stands to lose: our own.
Yet, all is not lost. To save our natural world from becoming a wildlife desert, we must act now. The key to our future lies in turning our backs on the most wasteful, cruel and inefficient food production system ever known to the planet: factory farming.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The farming systems which provide healthy food and enable wildlife to thrive already exist: we just need to support them. Free-range, pasture-fed, organic and mixed farming systems work with nature rather than persecuting it, thus allowing wildlife to flourish.
These systems give rise to a cascade of positive benefits for farm animal protection, wildlife and people alike. The power to help them succeed lies in our hands.
Philip Lymbery, author, Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were; CEO, Compassion in World Farming, [email protected]