Polar bears are mammals that spend most of their time in the Arctic Ocean and they are considered very good swimmers. They have a high percentage of body fat and a water-repellent coat in order to be able to survive in the Arctic Ocean’s conditions and they are mainly fed by seals. They are hunting half of their time and still, they may catch 1 or 2 seals out of 10.
Polar bears are divided into 19 sub-populations, out of which 3 are already in decline according to the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group. In the southern Beaufort Sea there has been documented a 40% population loss for polar bears. Additionally scientists are afraid that this decline is going to continue in the future due to climate change since there is a continuous loss of their ice habitat.
But why are polar bears so severely affected by climate change? Polar bears need the sea ice to cover most of their primary needs: they access the seals from which they are fed, while they use it to breed and rest. As sea ice deteriorates polar bears do not have the means to survive.
Dr. Pete Ewins, WWF’s Senior Species Officer stated that “This is a clear warning sign of the impact a warming Arctic has on ice-dependent species like the polar bear.” “Given this sub-population is at the edge of the range, it’s no surprise to see this happening so soon.”
Unfortunately, polar bears are not the only ones affected by climate change. Many species are facing endangerment since their habitats are deteriorating, such as African Elephants, Giant Pandas and Snow Leopards. On the other hand extreme weather conditions have also made their appearance all over the world causing disasters. Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma are only recent examples of how climate change has affected our lives.
It seems that after many years of humans leaving their footprint on the planet, the time has come for animal populations and future generations to pay the price. All nations and people individually should take responsibility for their actions and work together towards a resilient, sustainable world.
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