Today, the world will celebrate the 40th anniversary of World Environment Day. This annual event, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, is the most widely celebrated day for global environmental action. The theme for this year is Green Economy: Does it include you?
To celebrate, rather than focus on one country, we decided to expand ARKive Geographic and selected a species from each continent that practices eco-friendly behaviour.
First on our list is the caracal, a cat species from Africa that can teach us all a thing or two about cooling efficiency and water conservation. This cat is truly adapted to its desert habitat, with large ears that serve as a built in air-conditioner by expelling heat. Amazingly, caracals also require little water, obtaining most of it from their food supply.
Our representative from Antarctica is the Weddell seal, chosen for its excellent energy conservation skills. Unlike the caracal, this ice dweller is built to keep the heat trapped in, with shorter extremities, a large body and blubber that acts as insulation. This type of energy storage is also helpful when diving in the icy Antarctic waters, sometimes for over 20 minutes!
The common myna has Asian mass transit techniques down to a fine art! As you can see, these birds are often found riding on the backs of rhinos, cattle or other large creatures, but they aren’t just your average hitchhiker. Mynas repay the favour by removing ticks and other parasites during their ride.
The common clownfish from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has earned the badge of community conservation and sustainable development, forming a symbiotic relationship with its partner, the sea anemone. The clownfish improves water circulation for the anemone by fanning its fins, as well as scaring away predators, while the anemone provides parasites and debris for the clownfish to feed on. Now that’s teamwork!
Our European candidate is the black kite, and is perhaps one of the “greenest” birds around. This raptor is a known recycler, frequently reusing plastics and rags for their nests, and scavenging through garbage heaps for food. They are also efficient birds of prey, able to glide and soar on thermal wind currents as they search for food.
The giant sequoia, found in North America on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, is not only the world’s largest living organism, but also a great contributor in reducing our carbon footprint. These majestic trees absorb as much as 10kg of CO2 in a just one day!
Last but not least on our list of nature’s environmental stewards is the mantled howler monkey. Notorious for the cacophony it creates in the forest, this primate is also a fantastic gardener, feeding on fruit and helping to spread the seeds through the forest so that new trees can grow.
Maggie Graham, ARKive Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA