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Pictures Report

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Earth Day: Species at risk
A look at vulnerable species that play a key role in their ecosystems and face endangerment from human activity, as highlighted by the Earth Day campaign.
EU-PESTICIDES/
RTXZ3DM
April 29, 2013
To commemorate Earth Day in 2019, the organizing network has identified 14 species that are key to their...
Vienna, Austria
A bee is covered with pollen as it sits on a blade of grass at a lawn in Klosterneubur
To commemorate Earth Day in 2019, the organizing network has identified 14 species that are key to their ecosystems and face endangerment from human activity, including...

BEES: Worldwide populations of these insects are in decline, as they face threats from the use of pesticides, neonicotinoids and GMOs, as well as climate change, habitat loss, pests and disease. Beekeepers in the U.S. and Europe have reported annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher in the last decade, and in America, one in four wild bee species is at risk of going extinct. A colony of 25,000 bees can pollinate 250 million flowers in one day, making them an irreplaceable link in ecosystems and agricultural production.

REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
TANZANIA-WILDLIFE/TECHNOLOGY
RTX6EKH7
October 10, 2018
GIRAFFES: The world's tallest mammals have declined in population, from 155,000 in 1985 to just 80,000...
GRUMETI, Tanzania
Giraffes are seen at the Singita Grumeti Game Reserve
GIRAFFES: The world's tallest mammals have declined in population, from 155,000 in 1985 to just 80,000 in 2018. The curious creatures drive ecotourism and conservation, which help protect other wildlife in their ecosystem. The herbivores also play a key role in plant growth, spreading seeds from the fruits and plants they eat. Acacia trees, their main source of food, are under threat from climate change and habitat loss. Giraffes are also poached for their tails and meat, and hunted as trophies.

REUTERS/Baz Ratner
AUSTRALIA-REEF/WIDERIMAGE
RTX1I8GP
June 29, 2015
CORAL REEFS: These tropical and subtropical features, found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans,...
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, Australia
Wider Image - Great Barrier Reef At Risk
CORAL REEFS: These tropical and subtropical features, found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, are home to more than a quarter of the planet's marine life -- and have a key role for eco-tourism and fisheries. They are threatened by ocean acidification from climate change; pollution from sunscreens, agriculture, sewage and chemicals; coastal development; overfishing; and tourism-related destruction from stepping and anchoring on reefs. Twenty-five percent of reefs around the world are considered damaged beyond repair, and close to 65 percent are under serious threat.

REUTERS/David Gray
ARGENTINA-ANIMALS/
RTX1FUYA
June 09, 2015
WHALES: These marine mammals are facing steep population declines worldwide. Their role in ocean ecosystems...
PENINSULA VALDEZ, Argentina
An albino Southern Right whale swims in the waters of the Atlantic Sea
WHALES: These marine mammals are facing steep population declines worldwide. Their role in ocean ecosystems is complex: they recycle nutrients by feeding at lower depths and releasing them near the surface, and become food for bottom-dwelling species when they die and sink to the ocean floor. Their dung provides nutrients for photosynthesizing plankton -- scientists estimate that nearly half of the oxygen we breathe comes from this process. These creatures are believed to possess intelligence comparable to humans, with social organization, empathy, speech and knowledge-sharing. Whales are threatened by water and noise pollution, becoming entangled in commercial fishing equipment, commercial hunting, collisions with watercraft and climate change.

REUTERS/Maxi Jonas
KENYA-ANIMALS/
RTS1XX7X
August 19, 2018
ELEPHANTS: The world's largest land animals are capable of complex feelings and thoughts, and have great...
Amboseli, Kenya
Whirlwind is seen as elephant and zebras walk through the Amboseli National Park
ELEPHANTS: The world's largest land animals are capable of complex feelings and thoughts, and have great memory storage and recall in their five-kilogram brains. They attract eco-tourism, which protects wilderness for many species, and are an important link in ecosystems, creating watering holes and spreading seeds for new growth. Elephants are under threat from poaching -- over 20,000 are killed for their tusks and skin every year -- as well as habitat loss from expanding human populations and climate change.

REUTERS/Baz Ratner
CALIFORNIA-BUTTERFLIES/
RTX6R92Q
March 14, 2019
INSECTS: These tiny creatures collectively make up 80 percent of all the world's known species -- with...
Encinitas, UNITED STATES
A swarm of painted lady butterflies land on a Carolina cherry tree as they migrate north from Mexico...
INSECTS: These tiny creatures collectively make up 80 percent of all the world's known species -- with 200 million insects for every human on earth. But overall populations have declined 45 percent over the past four decades, causing risks to plant pollination necessary for food production. Insects are a key component of global ecosystems: some insects keep other bugs from destroying crops, while others are a food source for other species. Insects are the most vulnerable to climate change, and are also endangered by habitat loss, pesticide use and invasive species.

REUTERS/Mike Blake
FINLAND-WEATHER/
RTX3FA3S
September 08, 2017
TREES: Forests play a vital role in ecosystems: regulating and maintaining carbon balance; providing...
Pallas, Finland
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is seen over the sky near the village of Pallas (Muonio region)...
TREES: Forests play a vital role in ecosystems: regulating and maintaining carbon balance; providing shelter for animals; creating nutrient-rich soil; and contributing to the water cycle. Trees are also a major economic contributor through the forestry industry. They are under threat from deforestation, climate change, invasive insects and fires.

REUTERS/Alexander Kuznetsov/All About Lapland
MALTA-ENVIRONMENT/
RTX6PRVW
March 05, 2019
PLANTS: There are more than 380,000 different plant species on Earth, that provide us with food, herbal...
Mgarr, Malta
Giant fennel plants are seen on a hillside overlooking Gnejna Bay, outside the village of Mgarr
PLANTS: There are more than 380,000 different plant species on Earth, that provide us with food, herbal and pharmaceutical medicine and oxygen. Climate change degrades the soil they grow in and raises sea levels. Invasive species create competition for resources to the detriment of native plants, while habitat loss comes in the form of urban or agricultural development and fires. Pesticides and insecticides can harm plants and their pollinators, while crop patents reduce biodiversity.

REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
ISRAEL-ANIMALS/
RTX4COAM
January 16, 2018
BIRDS: There are roughly 11,000 species of birds, with nearly 40 percent facing significant decline....
BEIT KAMA, Israel
A murmuration of migrating starlings is seen across the sky near the village of Beit Kama
BIRDS: There are roughly 11,000 species of birds, with nearly 40 percent facing significant decline. Birds are scavengers, eliminating waste and remains and eating unwanted agricultural pests. Migratory birds help move seeds and nutrients during their travels. Bird-watching contribute some $40 billion in revenue annually in the United States alone. Among the threats to these creatures are habitat loss, deforestation, climate change and severe weather, plastic and pesticide pollution, and illegal trafficking.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen
GLOBAL-FISH/
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November 02, 2018
FISH: There are an estimated 32,000 different species of fish worldwide, 33 percent of which are being...
Tokyo, Japan
Visitors look at bluefin tunas swimming in a tank at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in Tokyo
FISH: There are an estimated 32,000 different species of fish worldwide, 33 percent of which are being fished at unsustainable levels. Overfishing is a destabilizing force in marine ecosystems that affects the entire aquatic food web. Fish are also an economic driver, with some 120 million people dependent on these species for their incomes. Climate change disrupts their migration, reduces their sizes and threatens the reefs and other habitats that they shelter in. Pollution is also a major threat, with chemicals, waste, fertilizer and oil spills causing harm to fish populations and affecting the seafood that humans eat.

REUTERS/Toru Hanai
USA-ANIMALS/
RTR4PZXC
February 17, 2015
SHARKS: Humans are the greatest threat to these apex predators, which have no known marine predators....
Haleiwa, UNITED STATES
Sandbar sharks swim around during a cageless shark dive tour in Haleiwa, Hawaii
SHARKS: Humans are the greatest threat to these apex predators, which have no known marine predators. Sharks maintain the balance of marine populations below them in the food chain. Without sharks, mid-level species would overconsume creatures at the bottom of the food chain. It can also affect human food supply: when sharks disappear, fish stocks that humans rely on for industry also collapse. Between 2000 and 2010, some 100 million sharks were killed annually -- many hunted for their meat and fins or caught by trawling boats as bycatch. Climate change alters their habitats, affecting their ability to reproduce and find food.

REUTERS/Hugh Gentry
CUBA-CRABS/
RTS13UUN
April 25, 2017
CRUSTACEANS: These creatures with exoskeletons are some of the oldest animals on Earth. More than 50,000...
Playa Giron, Cuba
Crabs coming from the surrounding forests gather near the sea to spawn in Playa Giron, Cuba
CRUSTACEANS: These creatures with exoskeletons are some of the oldest animals on Earth. More than 50,000 known species can be found in fresh and saltwater habitats, playing an important role as food sources for marine animals, recycling nutrients as filter feeders, and decomposing dead organisms. Crustaceans are also economically important: blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay of the U.S. generated an estimated $78 million in 2009 alone. They are threatened by ocean acidification which weakens their shells, loss of habitat on coral reefs, overfishing, and plastic pollution -- ingesting microplastics that can travel up through the food chain.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
AUSTRALIA-REEF/WIDERIMAGE
RTX1I8GX
June 29, 2015
SEA TURTLES: These marine reptiles are some of the oldest creatures on Earth, and can be found around...
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, Australia
Wider Image - Great Barrier Reef At Risk
SEA TURTLES: These marine reptiles are some of the oldest creatures on Earth, and can be found around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. Though they lay their eggs in sandy coastal areas, they spend their entire lives at sea, feeding on seagrass and foraging in coral reefs. Demand for their eggs, meat, skin and shells has led to a rapid decline in their populations. Sea turtles are also threatened by coastal development and human disruption of nesting sites, becoming bycatch in fishing nets and lines, mistaking plastic pollution for food, and global warming.

REUTERS/David Gray
INDONESIA-ENVIRONMENT/
RTX1H6VU
June 19, 2015
GREAT APES: Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos are the four species of great apes, which possess...
Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia
A male orangutan waits at a feeding station at Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park in Central...
GREAT APES: Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos are the four species of great apes, which possess DNA that is closest to humans. They have shown great intelligence, displaying altruism by sharing food, using tools and saving them for future tasks. Great apes are sources of tourism, generating revenue for local communities and funding protection for the creatures and their habitats. They are threatened most by: habitat loss from agriculture, logging and development; deforestation for palm oil; fires, droughts and rainfall from climate change; and illegal trade and captivity.

REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
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