A few years ago, while I along with the rest of the world was falling in love with Knut, I was heavily impacted by a study scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey were conducting on the arctic sea ice melt. The arctic sea, at that time, was at record lows, in turn affecting the livelihood of polar bears. Now, several years since I was impacted by that study and many pieces since then, it continues to rapidly reduce.
Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert, in this Guardian article. If this image doesn’t haunt you, I gather you may not have a heart.
The Polar Bear is the world’s largest living land carnivore today. While pollution and unsustainable development threaten the species health, rapid ice loss due to climate change has greatly impacted their habitat and chance for survival. According to Polar Bears International, the arctic sea ice loss results in reduced access to prey, unhealthy body conditions, lower cub survival rates, increase in drowning due to exhaustion, increase in cannibalism due to starvation, loss of access to denning areas, and declining population sizes.
A few interesting facts I learned about Polar Bears:
- Scientists estimate that we could lose two-thirds of the world’s polar bears by 2050 unless we take action now.
- Polar Bears can be found in Canada, U.S. (Alaska), Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
- They are the only land mammal whose main habitat is drifting ice.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species recently published a release noting the plight of Polar Bears and that representatives of the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears met to discuss the future for this species internationally in December 2013. The declaration outlines key steps for conservation Polar Bears, which can further be read here. For the authoritative source of information regarding the world’s polar bears, please refer to the IUCN Species Survival Commission Polar Bear Specialist Group.