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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Global warming. Industrialisation. Forestation. You’ve heard it all by now, our precious ecosystems, glaciers and wildlife are facing an impending doom. With predictions saying many of the world’s most impressive natural wonders will disappear in our lifetime, there’s no better time to discover them than now!

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Eco-tourism is booming and curious travellers are taking the opportunities to travel to environmentally endangered areas to see when, before they’re gone. While this provides the necessary income to preserve these areas, it’s stressing the poor icebergs out! Here are 5 of the world’s most incredible natural wonders that are under threat of disappearing. If you visit, do it responsibly.

Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is the lowest point in the earth, 400m below sea level. Its waters also contain more saline than regular sea water which is why we float to curiously on the surface. What’s the threat? In the last forty years, the Dead Sea has shrunk by one third its size and sunk almost 25m. This is party due to countries taking more and more water out of the Jordan River, the source of the Dead Sea. On top of this, cosmetics companies aren’t getting away without some blame as well. The water and salt, known for its therapeutic properties, is increasingly being used in beauty products and marketed around the world. Time left: approx. 50 years.

[see]Flights to Jordan[/see]

Belize barrier reef

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize’s barrier reef is one of the most diverse in the world! Whale sharks, rays and manatees are just the beginning of what’s living beneath the surface of the water. Like the world’s other barrier reefs, Belize’s is in serious danger. A major part of it that reaches from Mexico to the Honduras suffered major damage from bleaching in 1998, losing half of its coral. Since then it’s been steadily deteriorating due to the increasing water temperatures and pollution and coastal development from booming tourism.

[see]Flights to Belize[/see]

The Poles

Emperor Penguins

Majestic animals, incredible icebergs, the Northern Lights… whether you’re in the north or the south, the Poles definitely impress in all their wintry goodness. While it seems impossible these two ice-continents could possible melt, scientists predict that if global warming continues then the emperor penguins in the south and the polar bears in the north will face extinction. At the current rate, Antarctica could disappear in 20-40 years. The easiest way to get to either Pole is to join an expedition or adventure cruise, making 4-10 day trips to the scientific research centres.

Madagascar

Madagascar

This is one of the richest country for flora and fauna. More than 80% of Madagascar’s plant and wildlife is found no where else in the world, thanks to its complete isolation in the Indian Ocean. In around 35 years the island will be completely de-forested and the unique critters living in them will also disappear, with nowhere else to live and illegal poaching on the rise. Many of Madagascar’s species have never been recorded or studied before and scientists fear they will disappear before this happens.

[see]Flights to Madagascar[/see]

Yangtze River Basin

Pandas!

Giant pandas, dwarf blue sheep, finless porpoises and Siberian cranes all call the Yangtze River Basin home. Unfortunately, they are sharing this home with around 400 million people. As development continues and billion-dollar dams are built, everyone knows that the basin’s distinct wildlife will be effected, it’s just a matter of time. Deforestation for agriculture and urban development has led to flooding and landslides in the area, thus polluting the Yangtze River with shipping, industry and urban waste. There are currently 50 reserves for giant pandas, thanks to the WWF.

[see]Flights to Xi’an[/see]

Have you been to any of these destinations? How do you think tourism effects these endangered places? Is it better to stay away, or visit before they disappear?

Imgs: dead sea: patrikneckman / reef: rsuehle/ penguins: noaaphotolib / madagascar: aleixcabarrocas / xi’an: chiking, Flickr cc.

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