According to the International Union Conservation for Nature (IUCN) there are around 20,000 – 25,000 polar bears left in the world. The numbers are continuously declining due to climate change and pollution. Previously these bears were in the list of Least Concern but in 2008 they became vulnerable species.
How Many Polar Bears are Left in the World?
However a report published in 2013 suggests that the global population of polar bears is on the rise since 2001. The global population of these bears is increased by more than 4,000 individuals.
Not only do polar bears are subject to the worst climate change, they were also hunted legally or illegally in the past.
Scientists are now extremely concerned with the negative impact of climate change on the lives of polar bears. Prominent among these dangers are habitat loss and starvation.
For example, polar bears predominantly hunt seals from the floating ice packs. Rise in temperature causes the ice to melt and thus bears are forced to swim longer than usual. As it turns out, many bears have been reported to drown—which scientists have never documented before. Besides, now polar bear needs more energy (to swim) which can only be obtained by hunting seals.
Polar bears find it hard to hunt seals because ice floats are not thick enough to support the heavy mass of these mammals.
In the past, polar bears had interacted with humans which led to the deaths of many species. They rarely attack on humans but when they do it leads to a fatal attack. This happens when bears are extremely hungry and it becomes difficult for them to hunt seals underwater, so that they have to find food on land.
One of the other reasons for the rapid decline in population is that adult polar bears fight with each other for females. They are also known to kill their own cubs—a cannibalism behavior in polar bears.
Oil development in those areas of Arctic that have the most population of polar bears and their prey is yet another cause of population decline. Oil spills in water at times stick to polar bear’s fur and thus they lick oil which indeed leads to a kidney disease.
Learn more about Polar Bears: Polar Bear Facts for Kids