Global warming, pollution and various decisions made by man are changing the climate and affecting animals. We need to become aware.
Climate change is feeling stronger and stronger in different parts of the world; the Caribbean is the victim of frequent and devastating hurricanes. The ice areas suffer melting. The fields are victims of floods that destroy the grasslands and animals that live there. The mountainous areas star in frequent and high earthquakes on the Richter scale. In conclusion, we are witnessing more and more natural disasters.
Faced with this worrying and changing scenario, from World Animal Protection we want to make a call that creates awareness about the situation that animals go through as a result of the decisions taken by us for many years. It is necessary that we assume our responsibility to stop, even a little, the negative effect that we are causing in the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, animals do not have a voice to express how their habitats, families and customs are disappearing due to the need to develop new skills, many times beyond their natural behavior, just in order to survive. That is why today, we tell you what are the main natural events that are threatening its existence:
The zud phenomenon
It is a climatic phenomenon that is repeated in a cyclical way, in which a drought during the summer is combined with a harsh winter, which leads to the animals dying of hunger or cold. This phenomenon is very common in Mongolia, where there was practically no rain in the summer of 2015 and the following winter had temperatures as low as -50ºC for days, with heavier snowfalls than usual.
As a result of the zuds, there is no grass to harvest or eat in the summer, so the animals arrive weakened in the winter and starve to death. In this way, millions of animals are threatened by sudden lack of food, freezing of their feet and abortions caused by cold.
In 2015, for example, extreme cold killed 170,000 alpacas in Peru.
In 2016, our team helped more than 160,000 animals in Mongolia, and the number of animals rescued increased to 350,000 in that year's zud.
In the continents of Asia and Africa is where there are more droughts. In regions like the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia), rainfall rates have been declining since 1970, while temperatures continue to rise. In the Pampas region of Argentina, for example, the scarcity of rain, especially in the season of greater agricultural production (the beginning of spring and summer) is making itself felt more strongly.
What happens is that the climate directly impacts both plants and animals: the less it rains, the less water and food are available, so many animals die or contract serious diseases.
In 2016, we helped more than 40,000 oxen and buffalo through one of the most extreme droughts in Thailand's history.
In 2017, thousands of animals died in Bolivia and another 30,000 were rescued by our disaster response team.
Floods and thaw
Global warming is melting the polar caps, raising sea levels. Around the world, coastal cities are threatened by increasingly devastating floods and storms that, in many cases, raise river levels, thus creating catastrophic situations.
These two phenomena were the most frequent disasters of the last decade - they accounted for up to 80% of all natural disasters. One of the most affected areas has been Latin America. In one region of Argentina alone, a victim of floods in 2016, almost 24,000 dogs, horses and oxen were affected.
Pests and diseases
Climate change also contributes to the spread of disease. Among them are Ebola, dengue fever, malaria, cholera, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease. Various investigations, carried out for example in India and Kenya, associate farm animal diseases with variations caused by climate change.
Natural disasters have an even more direct impact on the health of animals. During storms or floods, they are at risk for serious infections, such as carbuncles or Newcastle disease. Exposure to rain and strong winds also causes respiratory ailments, vomiting, and diarrhea. Animals trapped during floods, or stuck in mud or snow (such as zuds), can develop problems with their feet and hooves. And in extreme droughts, they suffer from malnutrition and dehydration.
Volcanic eruptions also leave great consequences. Recently, the Volcán de Fuego erupted, leaving thousands of affected animals near Guatemala City. As a result, they were forced to drink stagnant water or eat food contaminated by the ash. Our team found numerous cases of poisoning, which caused rapid death in many animals, livestock, dogs, and poultry, as well as severe emaciation in horses. However, fortunately it was also able to help more than 18,000 animals in the affected areas.
Mega storms (hurricanes)
Although they weren't very frequent before, major storms like Typhoon Haima are becoming increasingly common. The reason is the increase in the temperature of the oceans. Caused by intense evaporation of water, these storms form offshore and leave a trail of destruction wherever they pass - killing, injuring and leaving scores of people and animals homeless.
Every year, hurricanes devastate the Caribbean area with more frequency and force, as happened with Irma in 2017, which affected Puerto Rico, Florida (in the USA), the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti and several islands, among others. sites.
Do you remember Hurricane Matthew? It affected more than 670,000 animals in Haiti. Faced with this scenario, our disaster response team provided emergency care, medicine and food to around 110,000 injured, cows, pigs, chickens, horses and donkeys, as well as pets. In 2007, we joined the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), providing vital supplies and temporary shelter for pets after the devastating Hurricane Dean.
Climate change also interferes with the habitats and habits of animals, which results in great difficulties when migrating and adapting to climates to which they are not used. That affects the entire ecosystem. For example, the warming of the poles is causing the US Alaskan salmon to stop migrating, directly impacting the feeding of the bears, or the swallows returning earlier and earlier to Africa after their migratory journey .
Indeed, one study showed that the climate is altering or interrupting the migratory patterns of birds, butterflies and fish. Among them, in addition to the swallows, are the great tit in Europe, the Alaskan salmon, the monarch butterfly, the white stork, and the Canadian geese, as well as various coastal birds from Israel.
At World Animal Protection, we work together with governments, communities and organizations to provide veterinary and strategic help while a disaster occurs. Also, we create alert systems to raise awareness about how to be prepared before and during, so that people and their animals can be safe.
Together, we move the world to protect animals.
Photo Credit: World Animal Protection / Alex F Catrin