richard branson
Richard Branson calls for mankind to take action to prevent another mass extinction event

Richard Branson has called for greater wildlife protection and conservation, saying if we do not work to protect animals they will disappear just as the dinosaurs were wiped out.

The billionaire Virgin founder wrote in a blog post that there are several steps mankind must take if we are to prevent another mass extinction.

Entitled "Don't let Earth's animals go the way of the dinosaurs", Branson points to a recent article in Bloomberg that shows extinction rates are currently 12 times faster than normal.

Anthony Barnosky, biology professor from the University of California-Berkeley, notes that within 300 years, three-quarters of the species we are familiar with will be gone.

Earlier this year reports emerged that Earth's next mass extinction event may have already started, while renowned biologist EO Wilson said half of the planet should be set aside for animals if we are to prevent the "biological holocaust" we are currently heading for.

"Animals are dying off in the wild at a pace as great as when the dinosaurs were wiped out – but unlike the dinosaurs, the fate of animals is in our hands," Branson said.

elephant poaching
An elephant killed by poachers in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park Reuters

He said humans are often touted as the leading threat to wildlife, and as such there is a number of actions we can take to stop more losses.

"In the short term we must focus on stopping animal poaching; devastatingly, around 33,000 elephants are killed annually, while 95% of the world's rhinos have been lost in the past 40 years," continued Branson. "We should also stop overharvesting, and expand marine and land preserves – a great example of this is the major development of the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument."

He added that in the long term, mankind must become more sustainable and reduce its carbon output. This was "a major factor in my decision to go beef-free", he added.

"These are just some of the ways we can ensure animals don't go the way of dinosaurs – total extinction. How we treat our world is a reflection of our humanity, our intelligence, our conscience and ultimately, our very survival. Protecting animal species is one of the most important things any of us can do.

"The window of opportunity is closing fast, but it's not too late – we still have a chance make sure no more species disappear from Earth."