Global efforts to protect wildlife are gathering force. Last year, United Nations Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include specific targets to end poaching. The General Assembly also unanimously agreed a resolution to limit illicit trafficking in wildlife. These powerful expressions of political determination to end these highly destructive crimes are now being translated into actions on the ground through collective efforts by countries around the world.
However, to protect this essential natural heritage for this and future generations, much more needs to be done by key actors on all continents and across sectors. In particular, conservation efforts need to engage communities that live in close proximity with wildlife.
Time is running out to end the poaching crisis that threatens some of the world’s most iconic species. To combat poaching and trafficking of protected species it is essential to address both the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products through agreed goals and targets and international instruments, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
For too long, the world has been witness to heartbreaking images of the mass slaughter of elephants for their tusks. According to CITES, the killing of African elephants and trafficking in their ivory remain alarmingly high. Asian elephants are also subject to growing levels of poaching.
Many other species, such as cheetahs, pangolins, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks, tigers, whales and high-value timber, face a variety of different challenges, including from habitat change, over-exploitation or illicit trafficking.
On this World Wildlife Day, I call on all citizens, businesses and governments to play their part in protecting the world’s wild animals and plants. The actions taken by each of us will determine the fate of the world’s wildlife. The future of wildlife is in our hands!
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
3rd March is wildlife’s special day on the United Nations calendar.
On the occasion of World Wildlife Day last year UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon us to “get serious about wildlife crime.” And the global community heeded this call. In 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted a dedicated resolution on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife and the Sustainable Development Goals, which include specific targets to stop this illicit trafficking.
The current wildlife crisis is not a natural phenomenon – unlike a drought, a flood or a cyclone. It is the direct result of people’s actions. People are the cause of this serious threat to wildlife and people must be the solution, which also requires us to tackle human greed, ignorance and indifference.
Wildlife loss threatens our own personal well being, the livelihoods of local communities and, in some cases, even national economies and security. And today we are seeing a global collective effort to end wildlife trafficking. Across every continent governments and citizens are tackling both demand and supply – making wildlife crime much riskier and far less profitable.
Although overall levels of poaching and smuggling remain far too high, we are seeing improvements in some countries and with some wildlife populations. We are beginning to turn the tide on wildlife trafficking – but much still remains to be done – and success, very often, comes down to the actions of committed individuals. That is why this year we are rallying around the theme “the future of wildlife is in our hands.”
The 3rd of March is an opportunity for all of us – no matter who we are or where we are – to commit to securing a sustainable future for wild animals and plants, as well as for ourselves. Our collective success will rely upon the individual actions taken by each one of us – by you and by me.
Join us in celebrating World Wildlife Day 2016!
John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES
On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designates 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 a 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 in 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.