Polar bears in the Arctic are reportedly eating each other felicitating cannibalism due to food scarcity, a scientist with the Russian Academy of Sciences confirmed in media reports. The reason cited by the scientist was reportedly climate change and increased human activity that diminished hunting grounds for polar bears.
Ilya Mordvintsev, a senior researcher with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, said in a conference at St. Petersburg that there has been a shocking spike in the number of such cases of polar bears hunting their mates down. He said that while cannibalism among the polar bears was known to happen on rare occasions, there was a reported rise in the present cases.
Ilya reportedly cited two primary reasons for the polar bears for acting cannibalistic. One was insufficient nutrition, which could have led the large males to launch an attack on females and their cubs for food. The other was the surge in the number of people spotted in the Arctic, which implies that the cases were now being reported in public domain.
He further reportedly emphasised that the upsurge of cases of polar bears hunting down their own for food was not confined to the knowledge of the scientists, but also the employees of the oil and gas company reported it, as well as the Defence Ministry, he added.
Human presence and the increasing human activity in the subarctic region were posing a grave threat to the lives of the polar bears, Ilya said in media reports. The development of the popular route known as the Gulf of Ob kept the passage between the Barents Sea and rest of the Antarctica busy with vessels transporting liquified natural gas. This led to the broken ice on the Gulf of Ob, which is a common hunting ground for the mammals, making it difficult for the polar bears to hunt down the seals, he added.
According to reports, polar bears had a mass migration in December 2019, to a village in north Russia hunting for food. Environmentalists had warned that climate change forced the mammals to leave their habitat as there was not enough coastal ice left.
(with inputs from agencies)