Zimbabwe is home to a diverse array of wildlife that is so important to our culture. It is sad to note that it faces a bleak future if we do not address the current global warming crisis.
Our climate is changing; both naturally and due to human activities and wildlife, animals specially are rapidly losing the competition for space due to the ever growing human need and greed. One of the big questions that we have to answer is, how can we best protect wild animals in the face of climate change when human activities are increasingly running counter to the interests of wildlife?
In an attempt to answer the question, involving the voice of the youth is very crucial and powerful. This is because the youth have the ability and agility to come up with innovative solutions unlike the older generation. Climate change has definitely impacted the ecosystem, our wild animals particularly in this case, as has been witnessed in the increased number of droughts and floods, which also ultimately affect them. Therefore by involving the youth in combating climate change the survival of wild animals is also ensured.
In addition climate change is altering key habitat elements that are vital to the survival of wild animals and this is putting natural resources in jeopardy. Wild animals depend on healthy habitats, for example they need the right temperatures, water and food sources as well as places to raise their young. Climate change has definitely had an adverse impact on habitats, for example severe drought stress and kills plants on which some wild animals depend for food and in other case deprive them of water sources. Without adequate water and food sources it becomes difficult for wild animals to survive.
Climate change is without doubt the greatest threat facing our planet today. As has been mentioned there is already undeniable evidence that wild animals are being affected by climate change and global warming in both their distribution and behavior. A warming planet alters weather patterns, water supplies, seasonal growth for plants and a sustainable way of life for us and the wild animals as well. Therefore unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, climate change could cause some wild animals to become extinct.
Though the effects of climate change can be felt, it is not too late to take action. There is still time for the youth to be part of the solution. There has been no better time to involve the youth in these issues than now and this should have happened as soon as yesterday. The youth of today are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change, they make up the majority of the population and consequently they are the ones who will have to live with the impacts of climate change and loss of wildlife. Unless the youth become active citizens who are interested in solving these problems, we will be talking about stories about how we once had a rich variety of wildlife in the future.
Hence an active youth engagement in adaptation and mitigation initiatives to combat climate change is without doubt essential, not only do the solutions benefit humans but wild animals and the ecosystem as a whole also benefit from it too. It also falls upon people in leadership positions to empower the youth and give them the space to participate even in matters of policy making. It is therefore important for the youth to be active citizens involved in tackling climate change issues and be agents of change raising their voices to speak up for animals.
Speak out for Animals (SOFA) has made a stride by establishing a platform for university students, to help fight for the protection and conservation of animals. Through the SOFA Student Chapter (SSC), university students can gain an insight into the broad field of animal protection and also help raise the bar high for animals. SOFA believes that involving the youth in the protection and conservation of domestic and wild animals is very important, they will be the future leaders and decision makers and it is essential for them to value the importance of animals.
Prisca Daka Is a legal officer at Speak out for Animals. She has a keen interest in environmental issues, sustainable development and to see the youth fully engaged in these issues.
Prsica on Twitter | www.speakoutforanimals.org