Vote For The Endangered Animal March Madness Champion: Elephant vs. Sea Otter

CREDIT: FLICKR/SHUTTERSTOCK/GRAPHIC BY PATRICK SMITH
CREDIT: FLICKR/SHUTTERSTOCK/GRAPHIC BY PATRICK SMITH

We started with 32, and now we’re down to just two animals in March Sadness, ClimateProgress’ educational bracket tournament of animals impacted by climate change and other environmental threats. Our final contenders: the intelligent, weary-eyed Elephant, and the playful, kelp-loving Sea Otter.

For whichever animal wins, ClimateProgress will write a feature-length article exploring the story behind what’s ailing your chosen critter, and who is working to save them. You can read the rules here, or just go vote — do it in the embedded tweets below, on Twitter with the hashtag #CPMarchSadness, or on our Facebook page.

Elephant vs. Sea Otter

CREDIT: Shutterstock/Flickr
CREDIT: Shutterstock/Flickr

Elephant: Here’s what we’ve learned about elephants so far. First, it’s clear humans are not these animals’ friends — not only is ivory poaching a problem, but growing human population is taking away their forest habitat, as are changes in land-use. What’s more, once-domesticated elephants in Asia are being left to starve or mistreated as the use of domestication loses popularity. Finally, climate change is the nail in the proverbial coffin for this already-vulnerable animal — if temperatures rise even a few degrees higher than average in Myanmar, Asian elephants are in grave danger of dying of heat stroke, according to a 2013 study.

Sea Otter: A short re-cap: Sea Otters are being increasingly killed by toxic algae, which is expected to thrive in a warming world. And more severe weather is making it difficult for them to find food, contributing to starvation. That’s bad on its own, but what makes it worse is that the loss of sea otters due to climate change actually stands to make climate change worse. That’s because their main prey — sea urchins — like to eat kelp, so by keeping the sea urchin population at a sustainable level, they keep kelp forests lush. Kelp forests absorb a lot of carbon.

Which animal’s story would you most like to read? It all comes down to this. Vote below!

***TOURNAMENT UPDATES:Day 1–3/19: Paws and Claws pt. 1 — Polar Bear vs. Wombat; Tasmanian Devil vs. Pangolin; (voting closed) WINNERS: Polar Bear and Pangolin.Day 2–3/20: Paws and Claws pt. 2 — Lemur vs. Koala; Panda vs. Wolverine (voting closed) WINNERS: Koala and Wolverine.Day 3–3/23: Fins and Flippers — Sea Lion vs. Sea Horse; Penguin vs. Manatee; Walrus vs. Sea Otter; Whale vs. Salmon (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Horse, Sea Otter, Whale, and Penguin.Day 4–3/24: Horns and Hooves — Elephant vs. Horned Lizard; Rhino vs. Narwhal; Saola vs. Moose; Mountain Goat vs. Reindeer (voting closed) WINNERS: Elephant, Narwhal, Moose, and Mountain Goat.Day 5–3/25: Shells and Wings — Sea Turtle vs. Pelican; Sage Grouse vs. Peregrine Falcon; Oyster vs. Butterfly; Lobster vs. Red Knot (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Turtle, Falcon, Butterfly, Red Knot.Day 6–3/26: Polar Bear vs. Pangolin; Koala vs. Wolverine (voting closed) WINNERS: Polar Bear, Wolverine.Day 7–3/27: Sea Horse vs. Whale; Sea Otter vs. Penguin (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Horse, Sea Otter.Day 8–3/30: Elephant vs. Mountain Goat; Moose vs. Narwhal (voting closed) WINNERS: Elephant, Narwhal.Day 9–3/31: Sea Turtle vs. Red Knot; Butterfly vs. Peregrine Falcon (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Turtle, Peregrine Falcon.Day 10–4/1: Polar Bear vs. Wolverine; Sea Horse vs. Sea Otter (voting closed) WINNERS: Polar Bear, Sea Otter.Day 11–4/3: Elephant vs. Narwhal; Sea Turtle vs. Peregrine Falcon (voting closed) WINNERS: Elephant, Peregrine Falcon.Day 12–4/6: THE FINAL FOUR: Polar Bear vs. Sea Otter; Elephant vs. Peregrine Falcon (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Otter, Elephant.Day 13–4/7: THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Elephant vs. Sea Otter (voting NOW OPEN)

PAST ROUNDS:Round 12: The Final FourRound 11: Elite Eight, part 2Round 10: Elite Eight, part 1Round 9: Sweet Sixteen, part 4Round 8: Sweet Sixteen, part 3Round 7: Sweet Sixteen, part 2Round 6: Sweet Sixteen, part 1Round 5: Shells and WingsRound 4: Horns and HoovesRound 3: Fins and FlippersRound 2: Paws and Claws, part 2Round 1: Paws and Claws, part 1