Climate change altering wild animals’ habitat

Qura Laana tending to her camels at Chalbi desert in North Horr, Marsabit. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The migration of more than 1.2 million wildebeest between the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, across the crocodile infested Mara River, is among the Greatest Wonders of the World. The wildebeest covers approximately 800km to 1,000km on its individual journey along age-old migration routes.

Oblivious of the lurking danger, this amazing phenomenal is propelled by external factors beyond their control. Weather changes is the major factor. 

The grazers move in search of grass with high protein and calcium content for their calves, from Serengeti to Masai Mara, and vice versa. This movement is influenced by availability of grass, which is dependent on rain patterns.

The condition of the atmosphere (hot or cold) on a daily basis contributes to the climate of that region over a given period. Changes on climate patterns have reduced habitats' availability. Man, the contributor of climate change, has ignored the call to act in his best behaviour by practising that which conserves the environment. Climate change has a great impact on animal lives. They include metabolic disorders that may increase respiratory issues and decrease their feeding patterns. Another is immune suppression, hence making some animals vulnerable to diseases.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focuses on climate change and biodiversity as one of its thematic areas. The institution approximates that 80 per cent of ecological processes that form the foundation for life on earth are impacted by climate change, and that 37 per cent of the mitigation needed between now and 2030 to meet the 2°C Paris goal can be provided by nature-based solutions.

It also adds that 25 per cent of the world’s tropical forest carbon is managed by indigenous peoples and local communities. IUCN’s red list of threatened species shows that the polar bear is the animal mostly affected by climate change, since its entire life revolves around the arctic.

There is therefore urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emission, more use of green energy sources, adaption of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and achievement of 10 per cent tree cover in Kenya. We must also step up efforts to reduce marine pollution and advocate human-animal co-existence.

-Business executive at Standard Group