This heartbreaking photo is causing many people to realize that climate change is a force to be reckoned with.
People typically see photos of animals wasting away, such as majestic polar bears, because of the effects of climate change, but oftentimes it can be argued that the image is photoshopped or that the animal is being adversely affected by something else.
However, in this new photo, which was the winner for the Grand Title prize in an annual competition sponsored by London’s Natural History Museum in partnership with BBC Wildlife, shows indisputable proof that climate change is serious and needs to be reckoned with.
Chosen amongst 42,000 entries and submitted in the Mammals category, the photo depicts two foxes: but it’s not what you think. The two foxes aren’t collaborating or wasting away, but, rather, one has hunted the other and eaten it.
This is evidence that climate change is extending past the normalized threat of melting ice caps because it shows two beloved animals, both of which are often depicted in pop culture, being affected by the change in the Earth’s temperature because of humans’ activities.
In the photo, a Red fox has hunted an Arctic fox on the latter’s terrain, something which would have been unthinkable prior to the warming of Earth’s surface. The photo, titled A Tale of Two Foxes, was shot by Don Gutoski and the description for the image said this:
“From a distance, Don could see that the red fox was chasing something across the snow. As he got closer, he realized the prey, now dead, was an Arctic fox. For three hours in temperatures of -30 degrees Centigrade Don stayed at the scene, until the red fox, finally sated, picked up the eviscerated carcass and dragged it away to store for later. In the Canadian tundra, global warming is extending the range of red foxes northwards, where they increasingly cross paths with their smaller relatives, the Arctic fox. For Arctic foxes, red foxes now represent not just their main competitor – both hunt small animals such as lemmings – but also their main predator. Few actual kills by red foxes have been witnessed so far, but it is likely that conflicts between the two mammals will become more common.”
Not only is the Red fox encroaching on the icy areas that the Arctic fox usually controls, but the Arctic fox has been spotted on the mudflats where their white camouflage actually works against them. When either fox finds itself in new territory, neither is prepared for the unfamiliar terrain and one winds up harming the other. One jury member for the photo competition, Kathy Moran, said of their decision,
“What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.”
So what can humans do to prevent these atrocities from happening in the future and slow the Earth’s warming? Though the task of pushing large companies into reducing their carbon emissions may seem daunting, individuals can really help by reducing their own carbon footprint. This can be done by choosing to walk or ride your bike instead of driving as much as possible or recycling and composting whenever you can. Being mindful of plastic consumption and waste can help exponentially and voicing concerns to others about making more conscious decisions can raise awareness about how individual choices can affect the environment.
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