Dramatic footage captured for National Geographic shows a dying and emaciated polar bear struggling to find food in a land devoid of ice and snow.
The poor creature can be seen dragging its bony frame across rough land and scavenging for food in a bin.
Paul Nicklen, the photographer who shot the heart-wrenching footage, says the sight reduced him to tears.
“We stood there crying – filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he said.
They found the dying creature on Canada’s Baffin Island – and area that has seen a dramatic reduction in sea ice because of global warming.
Nicklen says that had he intervened, it would only have prolonged the inevitable and broken Canada’s laws in the process. Instead, he filmed the bear’s slow, painful death and posted it to social media to serve as visual proof of the impact of climate change.
“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen.
“This is what a starving bear looks like.”
Polar bears are only native to the Arctic region and are one of the many casualties of climate change. They rely on the Arctic ice for hunting seals and are becoming increasingly threatened as the ice melts away.
The World Wildlife Fund predicted back in 2002 that polar bears may face extinction through a loss of habitat and that prediction shows strong signs of coming true.
“My entire Sea Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear,” said Nicklen.
“It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy.”
There are an estimated 25,000 bears left in the wild and most experts agree that unless climate change is halted, they will all be dead within the next 100 years.
“The simple truth is this — if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment,” Nicklen wrote on Instagram .
“But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth — our home — first.”