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The consequences of climate change are not long in making themselves felt also in terms of wildlife survival. To be threatened this time is the emperor penguin, an endemic bird of Antarctica, the largest and heaviest of all penguin specimens.
Experts found that in three years the colony of emperor penguins of Halley Bay, the second largest in the world, has failed to reproduce.
The causes of the decline
The warning about the decline of Halley Bay specimens was raised in the magazine Antarctic Science. The colony was one of the largest in the world, counting between 14,000 and 25,000 pairs. However, the images recorded via satellite from 2016 showed that the group of penguins experienced a total reproductive failure, never recorded before.
Failure to reproduce is almost certainly due to the early breakup of the sea ice which serves as a link to the land where the penguins breed. While the reasons remain unknown, scientists point the finger at weather conditions and climate change.
In 2017 a further study conducted by various French research institutes and published on Biological Conservation predicted the risk of the emperor penguin's disappearance by 2100. Also in this research, experts have identified in the current climate changes the primary cause of the extinction phenomenon. The data speak for themselves. Emperor penguins are unable to cope with climate change, primarily the global warming, which in the years to come will modify their habitat, forcing them to move more and more.
The habitat that disappears
Global warming is at the root not only of the disappearance of glaciers and pack ice, vital spaces for emperor penguins. The negative impact of climate change is also felt on the banks of krill, primary food source not only for these birds but for every Antarctic species.
Even the picture drawn by WWF is alarming. As noted by the environmental association, in some areas of Antarctica such as the Pointe Géologie archipelago, "the colony of emperor penguins has halved in the last 50 years, but a temperature increase of another 2 ° C is expected (compared to to pre-industrial levels), possible within the next 40 years, would lead to a new decrease in existing colonies by more than 50%. "
How to save the emperor penguin
But what can be done in practice to save the emperor penguin from a fate that appears to be sealed? The opinion of the experts is almost unambiguous. To counter the extinction of penguins, governments must adopt international conservation policies, promoting a network of marine protected areas. But not only. As pointed out by the WWF, projects targeting the methods of sustainable fishing as well as an active fight against climate change, starting with the adoption of energy from renewable sources up to reduction of energy consumption.
In short, it is time to act with firmness and will. Before it's too late for the emperor penguins and more.