Threat to Polar Bear

Polar bears, the apex predators of the Arctic are likely to experience reproductive failure by 2040, reducing the number of offspring needed for population maintenance

By   |  NatGeo  |  Published: 18th Oct 2020  6:59 pmUpdated: 18th Oct 2020  9:23 pm

A new study has predicted that most polar bears in the Arctic will become extinct by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions remain on their current trajectory. Further, polar bears are likely to experience reproductive failure by 2040, reducing the number of offspring needed for population maintenance. Let’s read about the apex predator in detail…

Polar bears roam the Arctic ice sheets and swim in that region’s coastal waters. They are very strong swimmers, and their large front paws, which they use to paddle, are slightly webbed. Some polar bears have been seen swimming hundreds of miles from land—though they probably cover most of that distance by floating on sheets of ice.

Polar bears are attractive and appealing, but they are powerful predators that do not typically fear humans, which can make them dangerous. Near human settlements, they often acquire a taste for garbage, bringing bears and humans into perilous proximity.

Arctic adaptations

Polar bears live in one of the planet’s coldest environments and depend on a thick coat of insulated fur, which covers a warming layer of fat. Fur even grows on the bottom of their paws, which protects against cold surfaces and provides a good grip on ice.

The bear’s stark white coat provides camouflage in surrounding snow and ice. But under their fur, polar bears have black skin—the better to soak in the sun’s warming rays.

Hunting

These powerful predators typically prey on seals. In search of this quarry they frequent areas of shifting, cracking ice where seals may surface to breathe air. They also stalk ice edges and breathing holes. If the opportunity presents itself, polar bears will also consume carcasses, such as those of dead whales. These Arctic giants are the masters of their environment and have no natural enemies.

Breeding and behavior

Females den by digging into deep snow drifts, which provide protection and insulation from the Arctic elements. They give birth in winter, usually to twins. Young cubs live with their mothers for some 28 months to learn the survival skills of the far north.

Females aggressively protect their young, but receive no help from their solitary male mates. In fact, male polar bears may even kill young of their species.


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