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Earth is warming at an alarming rate due to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, which release heat-trapping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. But did you know that wildlife can play a critical role in mitigating Global warming by storing carbon?

On March 27, 2023, scientists from Yale University revealed a new study highlighting the effectiveness of protecting and restoring wild animals in their natural habitats in order to enhance carbon storage. The research demonstrated that safeguarding or reintroducing wildlife could lead to an additional capture of 6.41 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s an impressive 95% of the amount needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting Global warming to 1.5°C.

The study analyzed nine wildlife species, including marine fish, whales, sharks, grey wolves, wildebeest, sea otters, musk oxen, African forest elephants, and American bison. Researchers discovered that the presence or absence of wild animals in ecosystems fundamentally changed the carbon uptake and storage capacity. For example, the World Wildlife Fund highlights that forest elephants help store carbon by stomping out invasive plant species and promoting tree growth.

Sadly, over the past 50 years, wildlife populations have declined by 70%, transforming some habitats from carbon sinks to carbon sources. This makes it crucial to intertwine Climate change and biodiversity solutions. The process of restoring animal populations to boost carbon storage is called “animating the carbon cycle.”

The research team identified other species with high potential for carbon storage, such as African buffaloes, white rhinos, pumas, dingoes, primates, hornbills, fruit bats, seals, and turtles. Incorporating animals into climate solutions can help us achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals more quickly.

It’s not only land animals that contribute to the fight against Climate change. Marine animals such as whales, sea otters, and oysters also play a vital role in carbon storage. For instance, a great whale can sequester an average of 33 tons of carbon in its lifetime, while sea otters help kelp thrive, which can sequester up to 8.7 million tons of carbon dioxide.

So, what can we do to help? We can Support initiatives that protect and restore wildlife populations, from local Conservation efforts to global campaigns. By protecting wildlife, we’re not only preserving our planet’s incredible biodiversity but also actively fighting Climate change. It’s time to become Wildlife Warriors and take action in protecting our planet’s invaluable animal species, and in turn, tackle Climate change head-on!

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