4 March 2014
World Wildlife Day (March 3rd) was instituted by the UN in response to the ever growing threat to many plant and animal species due to habitat loss and illicit trafficking.
In his message to mark the inaugural day this year, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon said ‘For millennia, people and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine and spiritual sustenance. Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage’
It is estimated that current trends of species extinctions are between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the naturally expected levels, with elephants and rhinos being particularly at risk.
Research by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and INTERPOL estimates that between 50 and 90 per cent of logging in key tropical countries of the Amazon basin, Central Africa and South East Africa is being carried out through organised crime, threatening efforts to combat climate change, deforestation, conserve wildlife and eradicate poverty.
Whilst many governments have enacted measures to address the problem, citizens of countries across the globe have a vital role to play in shutting down the markets that sustains this illegal trade.
In addition to the illegal trade, climate change - which is linked with the burning of fossil fuels - is also impacting many animals and plants and in myriads of ways.
Polar bears in the Arctic are threatened by thinning ice, baleen whales must make longer journeys between their feeding grounds, and many migratory birds that rely on wetlands and lakes for food are increasingly facing water shortages. These changes could spell decline and even extinction for some species without an urgent transition of our economies and our lifestyles towards a low carbon economy.
Earth Hour on Sat 29th March provides an opportunity to join hundreds of millions of others around the world to demonstrate a concern for the future of our planet.