As climate change moves Arctic ice northward, walrus haul -outs become more massive

40 thousand walruses have hauled out near Ryrkarpy village on Kozhevnikov Cape in the northwest of Russian Chukotka Peninsula . A nature reserve must be created to protect them, says WWF.

For the first time the largest walrus haul-out in the Russian Arctic coast has been registered on Kozhevnikov cape near the village of Ryrkarpy.

No one expected that protective measures would prove to be successful so quickly”, says WWF Bear Patrol Project Coordinator in Chukotka Vladilen Kavry. “Some scientists were skeptical when WWF proposed to create a group to protect the site. The patrol group was organized by a local branch of the Association of indigenous peoples and consisted mostly of women. The police was also involved, as some people tried to take advantage of the situation and hunt for walrus tusks. There were cases when people provoked panic at haul-out sites and cut the tusks of walruses that died in the squeeze. To save walruses, a protected area must be created here urgently”.

Walruses also tried to get out on the coast near villages to the west from Ryrkarpy, but local people were not prepared to the situation. They came very close to walruses, took pictures with them and in the end frightened off the animals.

Because of climate change, nowadays ice almost disappears from the Chukotka and East Siberian seas in summer”, says Viktor Nikiforov, WWF-Russia Regional Programmes Director. “Multiyear Arctic ice moves northward, which means that in the coming years new haul-outs will appear on Chukotka Arctic coast. Walruses become exhausted after swimming hundreds of kilometers from pack ice to the coast, without a chance to rest. The sea without ice cover has frequent storms, which may lead to deaths of a large number of young walruses. Our common goal is to help walruses survive in this difficult time”.

For additional information please contact

Viktor Nikiforov, Director «The Global 200» Programme,
tel: +7 (495) 727-09-39, tel/fax: +7 (495) 727-09-38, e-mail
Masha Vinokurova, Press officer,
tel: +7 (495) 727-09-39, tel/fax: +7 (495) 727-09-38, e-mail
 

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