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Why must COP 26 Succeed and how are the climate and nature emergencies linked?

To put minds into focus, we have assembled this video showcasing our most endangered species and why we must tackle Global Warming or lose them alongside the most amazing 100 natural wonders around the world. This is what we are risking if we don’t. Immerse yourself in the amazing wildlife and places on our planet without the distraction of words.

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge the world has ever faced, but we can do something about it.

We are the last generation that can stop the devastating progression of climate change. We have the knowledge and the tools – we just need politicians to lead the way.

Why do we need to tackle climate change?

We know climate change is happening, and we know that it is caused by our actions.

The Earth's atmosphere is warming, faster than it probably ever has. In some cases, weather patterns, climates and natural environments are changing quicker than wildlife or people can adapt.

So many of the world's biggest challenges, from poverty to wildlife extinction, are made more difficult by climate change. And things will get worse if we do nothing. But we can do something about it.

We have the knowledge and the technology to reduce our impact on the climate, and ease the pressures on the world's most vulnerable places, people and wildlife. We just need to make it happen.

Why must COP 26 Succeed?

As the world’s governments meet in Glasgow for COP 26, the global climate summit, to discuss global action to tackle the crises, we look closer at the links between climate and nature emergencies and show you how we can help nature recover and tackle the climate emergency.

Governments recently gathered virtually to attend Part 1 the UN Biodiversity Conference ahead of the UN Climate Summit being hosted in Glasgow. In Part 1, Leaders discussed the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, a set of principles, targets and actions to guide the countries across the world to restore nature. However, the nature emergency is not independent of the climate crisis - both are inherently interconnected, and we cannot solve one without solving the other.

The warming of our planet and the subsequent instability of our climate is undeniably being driven by human factors, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and the release of other greenhouse gases, causing temperatures to rise far above natural levels. Parts of the world are already feeling the heat, with droughts and wildfires raging and other catastrophic events linked to our changing climate becoming commonplace with increasingly erratic weather and rising sea levels beginning to affect daily life.  

We are also suffering from a nature emergency. The dramatic loss of wildlife may be felt emotionally rather than physically as populations of beloved species are in danger of disappearing. The drivers behind the crisis in nature are varied but include habitat loss, pollution, disease, invasive species and now climate change.

The climate crisis is now recognised as one of the greatest threats to nature and wildlife, but its impacts are becoming increasingly severe, compounding existing losses in nature.

Why will climate change not just disappear?

Global temperatures have been rising for over a century, speeding up in the last few years, and are now the highest on record. This causes negative impacts such as the melting of Arctic sea-ice, prolonged heat-waves and rising sea-levels.

We know why. We release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels for energy, farming, and destroying forests. These carbon emissions are causing the greenhouse effect, trapping heat and making the Earth warmer, faster than could happen naturally.

We know what needs to be done about it. We need to cut man-made greenhouse gas emissions drastically, phase out fossil fuels and move to renewable energy. We need to use less energy and be more efficient in the energy that we do use, and we need to tackle deforestation and eat less meat.

From fragile mangrove swamps in India to the fast-decreasing icy wilderness of the Arctic to the vast oceans, the delicate balance of life in precious places all over the world is being put under stress.

Global warming is likely to be the greatest cause of species extinctions this century. The IPCC says a 1.5°C average rise may put 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. If the planet warms by more than 2°C, most ecosystems will struggle.

Many of the world’s threatened species live in areas that will be severely affected by climate change. And climate change is happening too quickly for many species to adapt.

Some examples:

Tigers – possibly our planet’s most iconic cat

Tiger numbers in the wild have declined to as few as 3200, largely due to poaching and habitat loss. Climate change is likely to result in increasing sea levels and further risk of fire in the already fragmented habitats where tigers live.

  • What are Tigers affected by? Illegal wildlife trade, Human wildlife conflict, Habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Are Tiger numbers on the increase? The beautiful, awe-inspiring tiger is one of our planet’s most iconic animals. But here’s the shocking truth. Wild tiger numbers dropped by more than 95% since the beginning of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in conservation history, their numbers are on the increase. In recent years, conservation work and the commitment of various governments has halted the decline in global tiger numbers. But there’s a lot more work to do.
  • Why are Tigers so important? As top predators, tigers help to keep their environment healthy. It’s the way things naturally work in the wild – the predators prey on other animals, in this case herbivores (plant-eaters) such as deer. But without enough tigers to eat them, herbivores can overgraze and damage the land, disrupting the balance of the local environment. Local people also depend on a healthy environment for food, water and lots of other resources. By helping protect tigers we can also help to look after the places where they live, which is good for all the people and wildlife sharing that environment.

Snow Leopards – elegant and elusive

Warming in the Himalayas has already occurred at three times the global average. This is prime snow leopard habitat and continued warming will cause their range to shrink as the treeline moves higher up the mountains. This will not only fragment and isolate snow leopard populations, but it will severely affect their prey too. By protecting the rare snow leopard we’re also helping to protect its whole environment.

  • What are Snow Leopards affected by? Habitat loss and fragmentation, Climate change, Human wildlife conflict, Illegal wildlife trade.
  • Where are you able to see Snow Leopards in the wild? The elegant and well-camouflaged snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats. Snow leopards are sparsely distributed across 12 countries in central Asia, from southern Russia down to the Tibetan plateau, including Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. They’re usually at home in high, rugged mountain landscapes at heights of over 3,000 metres – and climate change may shrink their available habitat. But habitat deterioration, habitat loss, poaching and climate change are now threatening their survival. The snow leopard has a beautiful, spotted coat, thick enough to insulate them from the cold. Their wide, fur-covered feet distribute their weight over soft snow, like natural snowshoes. Snow leopards are solitary creatures, and skilful predators, able to kill prey up to three times their own weight in challenging terrain. It’s been found that poaching and retaliatory killing (as a consequence of a snow leopard killing livestock) are sometimes linked, and the attitudes and support from local communities living in these remote mountain areas are critical to the success of snow leopard conservation.
  • Why are Snow Leopards so important? Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, and their prey include mountain sheep and goats. Without the snow leopard, the ecological balance would be disrupted. For example, herbivore populations would increase, resulting in changes to the vegetation, also affecting other wildlife that live in these areas. The same landscape also provides food and other important resources for the many people who live there – including medicine and wood for shelter, heat and fuel. So, by protecting the snow leopard, we’re benefitting the whole natural environment in these areas and the people who rely on it.

African Elephant – Strong, smart but vulnerable

Help us protect these incredible, intelligent giants.

  • What are African Elephants affected by? Illegal wildlife trade, Habitat loss and fragmentation, Human-elephant conflict.
  • Has the elephant population declined? Following population declines over several decades due to poaching for ivory and loss of habitat, the African forest elephantis now listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, according to the assessments. Both species suffered sharp declines since 2008 due to a significant increase in poaching, which peaked in 2011 but continues to threaten populations. Other major threats to both African elephant species include the ongoing conversion of their natural habitats for agriculture and other land uses. We're doing all we can to help, from supporting initiatives in monitoring herds, to training community rangers and protecting habitat. Safeguarding elephants, also helps to support local communities through measures to reduce human-elephant conflict and initiatives to support local livelihoods. We need your help to protect them.
  • Where do African elephants live? African elephants are found in 37 countries in sub-Sahara Africa, with an estimated 70% in Southern Africa, 20% in Eastern Africa, 6% in Central Africa and 3% in West Africa. Elephants need a lot of land to find enough food and water. They can roam across more than 30,000 sq. km. But the space available to elephants in Africa has more than halved since 1979. They’re still doing well in some secure areas, where numbers are even increasing, but in other places they’ve been forced to live in smaller, isolated groups and their numbers are getting dangerously low.
  • Why are African elephants so important? Elephants play an essential role in their environment. They're ‘landscape architects’ – for instance as they move around and feed, they create clearings in wooded areas, which lets new plants grow and forests regenerate naturally. And then there’s seed dispersal. When elephants eat seed-bearing plants and fruits, the seeds often re-emerge undigested. It’s the way a lot of plants spread. And elephants can eat big seeds that small animals can’t. Without elephants, the natural structure and functioning of their landscapes would be very different, which would have impacts on the other wildlife and the people who share that space. Local people depend on natural resources found in elephant habitats, for example for food, fuel and income. As one of Africa’s wildlife ‘big five’, elephants are popular with tourists, which can be an important source of income for communities. By helping protect elephants we can also help to make sure their environment and its natural resources are available for generations to come.

Orangutans – the kings of Asia’s rainforests

Forest destruction has halved orangutan numbers – but we can all help protect them.

  • What are Orangutans affected by? Food & farming, Habitat loss and fragmentation, Illegal wildlife trade.
  • Has the Orangutan population at risk? What an extraordinary creature the orangutan is. It’s one of the most human-like of all wild animals – although of course with extra-long arms and more ginger hair! But this ‘person of the forest’ (that’s what orangutan means in Malay), is now at serious risk. And one of the biggest threats to them is in lots of the everyday products we buy. A century ago, orangutans lived in forests all across south-east Asia - from southern China to the Indonesian island of Java. Today they’re only found on two islands: Sumatra and Borneo. As the orangutans’ forests have disappeared, so have their numbers - cut by around half in just the last 60 years. It’s vitally important to protect these incredible animals – Asia’s only great apes – before it’s too late. Our support is crucial, and the good news is we can help in lots of ways.
  • Where do Orangutans hang out? Orangutans used to roam as far north as southern China, and as far south as the Indonesian island of Java. Today they’re only found on two islands – Sumatra and Borneo. These islands are also home to lots of other threatened species - including the Sumatran tiger, clouded leopard and Asian elephant. Protecting the orangutan’s home helps those animals too.
  • Why are Orangutans so important? Orangutans are known as gardeners of the forest because they help spread seeds around. You know how it works - they eat fruit from the trees, the seeds come out the other end, the forest spreads. Especially the larger seeds that don’t get spread by smaller animals. Without that seed distribution, the forests would be drastically different, and that would have impacts on all the people and animals that live in or use those forests. The people of Borneo and Sumatra depend on the orang-utan’s forest for food, water, income and environmental protection. 

There are a growing number of species on the endangered list which is now huge and include:

  • Asian Rhino
  • Polar Bears
  • Adelie Penguins
  • Atlantic Puffins
  • Chimpanzee
  • African Wild Dog
  • Komodo Dragon
  • White Rhino
  • Black Rhino
  • Lion
  • Mountain Gorilla
  • Blue Whale
  • Giant Panda
  • Clouded Leopard

This is just a few and there are many others.

For further information on how you can help, please do feel free to contact Nicola directly or at The Explorations Company for further inspiration and unforgettable safaris and holidays to Africa, Asia, and Latin America

Or, if you would like to just dream some more for now then you can by visiting our Video Library.

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