A POLAR Bear expert is set to come to Ayr this month to highlight the struggle the under-threat animals face.

Rod Downie will give a talk at Ayr Town Hall about how polar bears are fighting climate change on the front line in the Arctic.

The World Wildlife Federation Chief Polar Advisor is just one of only a handful of scientists to have undertaken direct field research on the remarkable animals.

Rod, originally from Drummore the southernmost village in Scotland, has been working in the inhospitable sub-zero arctic conditions, getting up close to polar bears and studying the large natural predators.

His talk will examine the current status of polar bears, and the threats they face due to rapid Arctic warming.

These include how scientists are able to take skin biopsies from big angry polar bears, how environmental DNA can be extracted from bear footprints, and how state-of-the-art airborne infrared photography is being used to census polar bear populations.

Rod said: “I will never forget the first time I came face-to-face with a large adult male polar bear in the wild.

“I look forward to sharing some of the exciting and innovative solutions that WWF have developed with our partners across the Arctic to help chart a future for these ‘icons on ice’.

“I feel very honoured and very humbled to be participating in the RSGS Inspiring People lecture series. Scotland is the Arctic’s closest neighbour.

“I grew up on the south west coast of Scotland and I have vivid childhood memories of 35,000 barnacle geese flying in from Arctic Svalbard and landing in the fields outside my house – Scotland and the Arctic are inherently linked.”

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the RSGS said:“In spite of the threats posed to the arctic by global increases in temperature, Rod Downie and the WWF are working hard to promote a sustainable future for polar bears in the wild.

“I hope that these talks will inspire those in attendance to learn more about these incredible animals and encourage them to think more broadly about how we can preserve their habitat for generations to come.”

The talk will be held on Wednesday, January 29 at the Ayr Town Hall, New Bridge Street, Ayr, KA7 1JX.

Tickets for Rod’s talk will be available on the door or online via Eventbrite until noon the day before.. Full price tickets are £10 and free for RSGS members, students and U18s.