A shocking image of a young polar bear sleeping on an iceberg has captured public attention, highlighting concerns about the loss of polar habitats due to climate change.
The photo was awarded the People’s Choice Award for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, given by the Natural History Museum in London. Amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani took the photo during a three-day expedition to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
Sarikhani said he hopes the image will raise awareness and hope, as it represents the challenge of climate change and the possibility of fixing it.
The photo clearly depicts the threat facing polar wildlife due to the climate crisis, with the small iceberg offering only a temporary refuge for the polar bear, proving how polar habitats are shrinking while the planet is warming.
Natural History Museum director Dr. Douglas Gurr described the photo as a visual representation of the devastating effects of global warming and habitat loss.
The image won the public vote among a shortlist of 25 images, garnering a record 75,000 votes from over 50,000 images submitted to the competition.
Although there are conservation efforts, such as the United States conservation plan, it is not yet clear how much progress has been made in protecting the species since it was first granted protected status in 2008. The next 15 years are considered critical to solving climate change, according to Dr. Flavio Lehner, chief climate scientist at Polar Bears International.