Despite the best efforts of conservationists, climate change is taking its toll on the delicate balance of the ecosystem. The latest of the animals to face mass deaths is reindeer.
The abnormal weather patterns have resulted in the death of 80,000 reindeer due to starvation in Siberia. 20,000 deer died in 2006 and 61,000 animals starved to death in 2013. 22 percent of the whole population of reindeer has vanished in the Yamal peninsula.
In a study published in Biology Letters, it is clear that both the times, the deaths had a common factor: the change in the weather pattern at the beginning of November. The weather was hot in both the years, and it rained heavily. This turned the soft snow into hard ice which cut off the food supply comprising of lichen and other vegetation for the reindeer.
As per lead researcher, Bruce Forbes from the University of Lapland Rovaniemi, Finland, “Reindeer are used to sporadic ice covers, and the adult males normally smash through 2 centimetres thick ice. But in 2006 and 2013, the ice was several tens of centimetres thick”.
The ice coverage came down in Barents and Kara seas near Yamal Peninsula, Russia. The ice near these regions began to retreat in November 2006 and 2013. At the time when the ice started building up, the lack of sea ice cover increased humidity, warm temperature, evaporation resulted in rain clouds that travelled over the southernmost tip of Yamal peninsula. For 24 hours, there was a torrential downpour, forcing reindeer herds to move South for the winter. The wet ground froze and left a layer of thick ice that lasted for months which kept reindeer from reaching the vegetation.
These events may become frequent if it occurs again and it will be a significant problem for traditional reindeer herders.
The researcher hopes that with focused monitoring, they’ll be able to predict when this strange ice coverage will happen.
As per the Living Planet Report, Global biodiversity is plummeting at an alarming rate, risking the survival of other species and our future. The Living Planet Index shows that the global population of mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles and amphibians have declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. Two-Thirds of the species will have decreased by 2020 if we do not reform our food and energy systems and meet a global commitment to addressing protecting biodiversity, climate change and supporting sustainable development.
- Decline in animal, bird, reptile populations from 1970 to 2012
The Logical Indian Take
It is very important for everyone of us to take responsibility of these incidents and act accordingly. Because of us, many animals have gone extinct and many are endangered.