Call of the wild has lessened, public says

Call of the wild has les

frogs cool 248.88 (photo credit: Amir Balaban)
frogs cool 248.88
(photo credit: Amir Balaban)
Nearly 80 percent of the public believes there are fewer wild animals now than there were in the past, according to a new public opinion survey commissioned by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and released Sunday. Thirty-six percent of regular hikers did not see a single wild animal last year, and only one in 166 saw a butterfly. One in 12 saw a wild boar and one in 45 saw a frog. SPNI commissioned the survey ahead of 2010, which the UN has declared the year of biodiversity. The UN hopes to draw attention to the wiping out of species all over the world. SPNI has adopted that rallying cry and will focus its efforts this year on biodiversity issues as well. Most of those polled (78.2%) believed there were fewer wild animals now than in the past and another 70.7% believed there would be even fewer animals in the future. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed thought the state should act to preserve biodiversity and among them, the two top strategies advocated were increased enforcement and preventing hunting. The two most common reasons for the perceived downturn in animal life were unregulated development and the loss of open spaces. Despite its size, Israel has a remarkable cross-section of both animal and plant life. According to Dr. Amir Perlberg, an ecologist with SPNI, there are 2,800 different plant species, more than 500 bird species, 100 mammals, 100 reptiles and thousands of invertebrates in Israel. However, since the 1950s about 50 plant species have disappeared, he said in a statement, along with the cheetah, the vulture and the Mediterranean sea horse. Five hundred people were questioned last week by MarketWatch for the survey. No margin of error was given.