I try to do my part for the environment, but these seven animals are a great reminder that we're all in this together.
Our animal friends didn't cause our current environmental crisis, but that isn't stopping them from helping us save the planet.
Truffles are a delicacy, and harvesting them is delicate work. Specially trained truffle dogs can sniff out truffles without disturbing the roots of trees. To them, truffle snuffling is almost as fun as chasing tennis balls through the forest. Traditionally, metal rakes are used to gather the truffles, destroying the roots and killing trees and plants, but using dogs to find truffles preserves delicate ecosystems.
Draft horses are still used by sustainable agricultural communities around the world for low-impact farming and forestry. These big beauties don't require fossil fuels, unlike tractors, and they have a much lower environmental impact.
Dogs are literally saving the world. Some organizations now use conservation dogs to hunt invasive species like giant snails in the Galapagos, while other groups use dogs to track and monitor endangered species of wildlife.
You might not love the idea of a rat in your home, but these specially trained rats save human lives every day. African giant pouched rats are light enough to traverse minefields without detonating the mines, helping workers safely disable the explosives. These clever critters can also sniff out tuberculosis, helping health workers monitor the dangerous disease.
Monitoring winter ocean temperatures in the Arctic is tricky. Expeditions are expensive, and extreme weather and thick ice are challenging to scientists. The narwhal, on the other hand, spends most of its life beneath the ice. By attaching transmitters to narwhals, scientists are now able to better monitor ocean temperatures and learn more about this elusive whale.
Do you need another reason to save the whales? Whale poop, according to scientists, plays a very important role in our world's nutrient cycling, so much so that we depend on whale poop for our crops. Whale poop is loaded with nutrients that when expelled, fertilize the ocean waters and move through the food chain, eventually fertilizing the land we use to grow crops.
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Some scientists think they might have a solution to partially offset global warming: Yakutian horses. A Russian scientist is reintroducing these hardy horses to an area in northern Siberia to breathe new life into frozen tundra. The horses trample the snow that normally insulates the ground from the cold air that causes thawing. When the frozen ground thaws, greenhouse gases are released, which are a major cause of global warming.
These animals work hard every day to make our world a better, cleaner place. If their stories inspire you, get out and see what you and your pets can do for the world.
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