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Six animals affected by climate change

By Marike Lauwrens 8 months ago
Six animals affected by climate change
Categories Sustainability

Climate change has become an everyday term as more people become aware of it. But have you thought about what this phenomena means for animals affected by it? 

Changes in temperature, and other impacts of climate change, might not seem extensive just yet, but we are already seeing the effects all over the world:

  • Some islands no longer exist, because of the sea levels rising.
  • Natural disasters are occurring more frequently.
  • More animal species are going extinct every year due to changing ecosystems and habitat loss. 

Climate change affects animal species in the following ways:

  • They have to adapt to the changing climate – which has made their habitats less comfortable, and sometimes even inhospitable.
  • They’re dealing with increases in water, air, and solid waste pollution that affects the food they eat and the habitats they live in. Animals also experience habitat loss due to increased greenhouse emissions.
  • Some animals have to alter their breeding and feeding patterns in order to survive.

If these animal species can’t migrate to areas with a more favourable climate, their fate might be sealed. Learn more about six animal species, and how they are affected by climate change.

1) Cheetahs

Two cheetahs resting together in the wild.


The African cheetah is the world’s fastest animal and it’s facing a speedy decline in population numbers in the face of climate change. 

It’s currently listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCNs) Red List of Threatened Species. 

In some areas, the cheetahs’ prey populations are declining, and as a result, the cheetahs have had to change their diets.

A rise in temperatures has even affected this big cat’s ability to reproduce. 

Male cheetahs have shown lowered testosterone levels, and a sperm count almost ten times lower than your house cat.

A rapid decline in wild cheetahs has seen an urgent bid by conservationists to study and preserve these master survivors in managed parks. For example, GVI volunteers gather data in Karongwe Private Game Reserve.

Help to conserve this big cat as part of GVI’s cheetah conservation and research project in South Africa.

2) Giant panda bears

A giant panda bear eating.

Original photo: “Panda bear mammal” by wal_172619 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


This two-toned tree enthusiast and World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) trademark bear feeds exclusively on bamboo. 

But climate change is causing a major wipe-out of bamboo in their natural habitat in China. 

Apart from being the bears’ staple diet, bamboo also provides them with shelter from the elements.

3) Green turtles

A green sea turtle.


Green turtles, like many animal species, are very sensitive to changes in temperature.

A baby turtle’s sex depends on the temperature of the sand where the eggs are laid. The warmer areas produce female turtles. 

With climate change causing an increase in temperatures, more females than males will hatch.

This may affect the population growth of green turtles in the future, since it may mean fewer mating partners for female turtles.  

You can support the protection of this endangered species by joining GVI’s endangered turtle conservation and research program in Thailand, or you can travel to Costa Rica to be part of conserving hawksbills, leatherbacks, and green sea turtles.

4) Asian elephants

Volunteer with Asian elephants.


These gentle giants are particularly affected by high temperatures. In order to survive, they need to drink a great amount of fresh water.

Climate change and global warming make it more difficult for elephants to get the water they need. 

Warmer temperatures also create favourable conditions for invasive plants to thrive and outgrow the elephants’ regular food sources.

You can join GVI to conserve Asian elephants as a volunteer in Thailand.

5) Polar bears

Polar bears are affected by climate change.

Original photo:Polar Bears on Thin Ice” by Christopher Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Climate change and global warming reduces the amount of Arctic sea ice for the bears to hunt seals on. 

This reduces their access to food sources, diminishes their natural habitat, and threatens their overall survival.

6) Adélie penguins

Adélie penguins are affected by climate change.

Original photo: Antartica” by nomis-simon is licensed under CC BY 2.0


These birds live in the Antarctic and feed on krill (found under the ice sheets).

As the ice melts, krill populations decrease and the penguins have to migrate from their natural habitat in an attempt to find alternative food sources. This makes it harder for them to settle down to breed.

Climate change has made life trickier for these animal species. It’s pushed some of them up the endangered animal species list, and seen others swiftly following suit.

Animal conservation depends on reducing the number of animals affected by climate change, and alleviating the effects of climate change. 

We can all play our part in curbing the effects of climate change by contributing to conservation research.

GVI is an international award-winning volunteer organisation that contributes to robust scientific research. 

Take a look at our wide variety of wildlife and marine conservation projects that are geared towards reducing the number of animals affected by climate change.