World Wildlife Day – 3 March
Maxwell Knight’s prescient observations were recorded in a (hitherto unpublished) manuscript entitled The Frightened Face of Nature. The first chapter, ‘Goodbye to Wildlife?’, sets the tone of the 50,000 words that follow, he opens with: “Does such a question as that heading this chapter stem from the neurotic imaginings of a fanatic, or is it one that can reasonably be put forward at the present (1964) time? It is always said that no person can truly see himself as he truly is to others, so one must be careful when producing an idea which might lead to the conclusion that no one in his right senses could even begin to think of anything so terrible and fantastic as the virtual disappearance of living things from the face of the earth or the ocean deeps.
However, take a deep breath, count up to ten or even twenty, and then consider some of the facts – not fantasies – which face every human being today.”
In just forty years between 1970 and 2010 the global Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures trends in thousands of vertebrate species, has declined by 52%. The ZSL and World Wildlife Fund’s LPI report state that: “Habitat loss and degradation, and exploitation through hunting and fishing (intentionally for food or sport, or accidentally, for example as by-catch) are the primary causes of decline.”
In an ideal world, every day would be a day to celebrate natural history – but it isn’t. Tomorrow, however, is World Wildlife Day and that’s, at least, a start.
Please take a moment to find out more about the United Nations and World Wildlife Day.
‘On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),’ explains the World Wildlife Day website’s ‘About Us’ page, ‘as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.
World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2016 under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands.” African and Asian elephants will be the main focus of the Day under the theme “The future of elephants is in our hands”. Countries around the world are encouraged to highlight species of wild animals and plants from their own countries, adapting the global theme to suit.
The world’s wildlife, whether charismatic or lesser known, is facing many challenges. The biggest threats to wildlife are habitat loss as well as overgrazing, farming and development. Poaching and trafficking of wildlife driven by transnational organized crime groups pose the most immediate threat to many iconic species. Elephants, pangolins, rhinoceros, sharks, tigers and precious tree species are among the most critically poached and trafficked species across the world.
About 100,000 elephants were estimated to be slaughtered for their ivory between 2010-2012. While we are seeing positive progress to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking, more needs to be done by all of us. On this World Wildlife Day, we hope to see even more commitments coming from countries and citizens around the world.
Governments, lawmakers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. It is also up to every citizen to protect wildlife and its habitat. We all have a role to play. Our collective conservation actions can be the difference between a species surviving or disappearing.
The future of wildlife is in our hands.
The future of elephants is in our hands.’
Our future is in our hands as we are inextricably linked with nature; its demise is our (eventual) demise.