Sir David Attenborough makes extinction warning with one million of world’s species under threat


Sir David Attenborough has warned that the world is ‘facing a crisis’ and urges everyone to take responsibility for mass extinction and the planet’s eco systems.

In a new documentary, the iconic natural historian gives humanity his starkest warning yet to safeguard species from mass extinction for our own survival.

His one-hour film Extinction: The Facts, which airs on the BBC in Britain tomorrow, portrays the devastating consequences of mankind’s encroachment on natural habitats – and draws a clear link to pandemics such as the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as one expert has warned that one million of the world’s eight million species are now under threat of extinction, according to the BBC.

Sir David Attenborough, 94, has warned that the world is ‘facing a crisis’ in his new BBC documentary Extinction: The Facts, which airs on Sunday

The documentary portrays the world's last two northern white rhinos, a mother and a daughter, in Central Africa as it warns about extinction (above)

The documentary portrays the world’s last two northern white rhinos, a mother and a daughter, in Central Africa as it warns about extinction (above) 

International experts warned in a report this week that global animal, bird and fish populations have plummeted more than two-thirds in less than 50 years due to humanity’s rampant over-consumption. 

Experts believe that extinctions are occurring at around 100 times the natural rate and are continue to speed up, Radio 4’s Today programme reported on Saturday.

At the start of the documentary, Sir David warns that ‘we are facing a crisis’ and it is one ‘that has consequences for us all’. 

The programme reportedly contains ‘horrific scenes of destruction’, including monkeys leaping from trees into a river to escape a huge fire. 

In another scene, a koala limps across a road in a doomed search for shelter from a forest blaze.

Sir David said: ‘I do truly believe that together we can create a better future. 

‘I might not be here to see it but if we make the right decisions at this critical moment we can safeguard our planet’s eco systems, its extraordinary biodiversity and all its inhabitants. 

What happens next is up to every one of us.’ 

The new film from the maker of Blue Planet and Planet Earth also tracks the suspected origins of Covid-19 to populations of bats living in caves in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

It shows the Chinese ‘wet market’ in the city of Wuhan, specialising in the sale of wild animals for human consumption, which scientists believe was at the root of this year’s deadly pandemic.

The broadcaster, famous for Blue Planet and Planet Earth, also tracks the suspected origins of Covid-19 to populations of bats living in caves in the Chinese province of Yunnan

Sir David’s stark warning comes as one expert has claimed that one million of the world’s eight million species are now under threat of extinction

The documentary contains 'horrific scenes of destruction', including a koala limping across a road in a search for shelter from a forest blaze (above, a koala near Brisbane, Australia)

The documentary contains ‘horrific scenes of destruction’, including a koala limping across a road in a search for shelter from a forest blaze (above, a koala near Brisbane, Australia)

The film comes after this week’s Living Planet Index report warned that continued loss of natural habitats increases the risk of future pandemics, as humans come into closer contact with wild animals. 

‘Over the course of my life I’ve encountered some of the world’s most remarkable species of animals,’ the 94-year-old said. ‘Only now do I realise just how lucky I’ve been – many of these wonders seem set to disappear forever.’

The world’s last two northern white rhinos, a mother and a daughter, in Central Africa are also portrayed in the documentary. 

‘We will not allow any other species to walk this tragic road of extinction,’ says rhino caretaker James Mwenda, according to BBC’s Today programme.

But Sir David has not given up hope, as he retraces his iconic 1970s film Life On Earth, showing a fast-dwindling band of mountain gorillas on the border between Rwanda and the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo.

Their population has recovered from just 250 then to more than 1,000, thanks to a determined conservation campaign in Rwanda.

The broadcaster meets the offspring of a playful young female he met four decades ago.

Throughout the programme, Sir David urges people to take responsibility for their role in the crisis and says we can still safeguard our planet’s natural world.

Kathy Willis, professor of biodiversity at Oxford’s department of zoology, appears in the new documentary and spoke to BBC’s Today programme about extinction.

Sir David retraces his iconic 1970s film Life on Earth (above), showing a fast-dwindling band of mountain gorillas between Rwanda and the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo

Sir David retraces his iconic 1970s film Life on Earth (above), showing a fast-dwindling band of mountain gorillas between Rwanda and the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo

She said: ‘Normally with extinction thinking about dinosaurs they took not thousands but millions of years to go extinct whereas this is happening the date over the last 50 or so years.’

She added that the rapid declines are human driven, not due to natural causes, arguing that the biggest driver of extinction is land use change, when human activities transform the natural landscape.

The professor also draws upon an interesting statistic in the programme, which states that the average person in the UK uses four times the resources of a person in India.

And in the US, the average person uses seven times more resources than someone living in India.

She says: ‘One thing we can all do is start to think about the amount of waste we generate and also where our products come from. 

‘Look in your fridge, look in your fruit bowl and think “actually is that being grown in a sustainable way and do I really need to have apples that come right the way from south america?”‘

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