Every year March the 3rd plays host to World Wildlife Day, and since its inception in 2013 it has covered a number of important and varied wildlife conservation topics. This year the theme for the day is “Listen to the young voices” and the idea is to encourage young people all around the world to rally together and address the issues that are facing the world’s wildlife.
With over half of the world’s population below the age of 30, the hope is that this year’s World Wildlife Day can mobilise the younger generations to help make a change to the situation the world’s wildlife currently finds itself in. A recent paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change stated that more than 700 species of mammals and birds which are currently endangered appear to have been adversely affected by the effects of climate change, and this number is set to continue to rise unless a change is implemented.
Primates and marsupials are said to be the species suffering most as a result of global warming, and this is due to the ecosystems within which they live being located in tropical regions, and these have had a stable climate for thousands of years. This means they have not been exposed to the change in climate that other species have, and they are finding harder to adapt to the ever warming planet.
However, it is not just the primates and marsupials that are in danger from global warming, and the following list details some of the world’s animals which are most at risk from the planet warming up.
Leatherback Sea Turtles
The sights of these majestic beasts gently gliding through the worlds seas may be something which we see less and less frequently if things continue on their current path. The Leatherback is suffering from duel environmental threats. The first is over hunting and by catch, as they are often caught intentionally or not, by fisherman and this kills thousands of these beautiful animals each year. The second reason is that global warming is quite literally heating up the beaches on which turtles make their nests and this means that the sand is too warm for the healthy development of baby turtles.
Scientists have declared salmon as a flagship species because the streams within which they live are drastically affected by the snow melting up on mountains all around the world, and this enables the scientists to quickly witness the impact global warming is having on these spawning fish. This is because the increased flow rate in rivers (due to the heavier flow of water from the melted snow) makes it harder for the salmon to lay eggs.
Clownfish have become an iconic species since their starring role in the film Finding Nemo, but with coral reefs in decline and half set to vanish within the next 20 years, these beautiful fish will soon be homeless and in danger as they depend on the coral to survive.
In a similar vein to the Arctic Fox, the Emperor Penguin is really beginning to feel the heat from global warming and as the ice sheets continue to melt the penguins are finding fewer and fewer places to breed. This is having a drastic effect on the penguin population, and unless this is reversed the penguins will continue to struggle to breed.
Another iconic animal, the koala is one of the animals that is most at risk from global warming. This is because of the food they eat, namely eucalyptus leaves. With increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the eucalyptus trees are struggling to produce as many leaves and this means that the Koalas are suffering from a lack of food.
This famous species of whale is in decline in the waters around Alaska and it has been listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List. A number of factors have contributed to this decline, and along with hunting, noise pollution and collisions with boats, global warming is a key factor here. As the world’s oceans warm up, the food chain that the beluga whale depends upon is being affected and this is having a dramatic knock on effect on these incredible animals.
This list is by no means an exhaustive one, but it shows that a change is drastically needed. On World Wildlife Day 2017, the chance for young people to rise up and have their voices heard has arrived and it should be grabbed with both hands. They are the ones that can affect change in this world, and they are the ones that will help create a better future for the world’s wildlife.
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