August 31, 2018

1:52 pm

Climate Change Takes More Elephant Victims

The unprecedented floods in the Kerala district of India have left multiple elephants dead. The rains, the likes of which the country hasn't seen in 94 years, took 350 human lives and left thousands of families homeless. The damage to nature was also devastating.

At this count, five elephants lost their lives along with two tigers. The damage to flora and fauna more broadly is incalculable.

"Once-a-century rains that have pounded Kerala and displaced 1.3 million people are in line with the predictions of climate scientists, who warn that worse is to come if global warming continues unabated," according to NDTV in India. The rain was 250 percent heavier than usual.

"Recent changes in climate have already begun to affect natural systems across the globe," says The World Wildlife Foundation. "These changes will only grow more severe in years to come." The threat, however, requires much less than an unprecedented flood to come dangerously to fruition.

It's not usually excess water that kills elephants prematurely -- it's the lack of it. Their huge size requires 150-300 liters of drinking water daily, making them especially vulnerable to drought.

There is only one thing that makes elephants more adaptable to climate change than other animals: their range.

From WWF: African elephants live across a range of diverse habitats, from tropical rainforest to arid desert in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that they are tolerant of a wide range of climatic extremes. They also feed on a variety of plant species, and food is widely available in their habitat. If a few plant species are impacted by a changing climate, African elephants can simply feed on a host of others.