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  • United Nations SG
    António Guterres Secretary-General United Nations
  • John Scanlon
    John E. Scanlon Secretary-General CITES Secretariat
Tweets by World Wildlife Day

On World Wildlife Day we focus on the important role the planet’s wild animals and plants play in our cultures and the sustainability of our societies. This year, the spotlight falls on the world’s big cats. These magnificent predators, which include species such as cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers, are found from Africa to Asia and the Americas. 

These charismatic creatures are universally revered for their grace and power, yet they are increasingly in danger of extinction. Big cats have undergone a massive decline in recent times. Just over a century ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today, fewer than 4,000 remain. They have lost 96 per cent of their historic range.

The story is similar for all the big cats. They are collectively under threat from habitat loss, climate change, poaching, illicit trafficking, and human-wildlife conflict. We are the cause of their decline, so we can also be their salvation.

The Sustainable Development Goals include specific targets to end the poaching and illegal trafficking of protected species of wild fauna and flora. Last year, United Nations Member States adopted the third in a series of ground-breaking resolutions to tackle this major cause of wildlife decline, and governments, civil society and the private sector actors around the globe are combining to translate this resolve into action. 

Ultimately, the solution to saving big cats and other threatened and endangered species is conservation policy based on sound science and the rule of law. It must also give full consideration to the needs of local people. When local communities and economies benefit from wildlife conservation, strategies are much more likely to succeed. 

Big cats are keystone species. Protecting them also protects the vast landscapes they inhabit and the wide variety of life they harbour. It is a gateway to protecting entire ecosystems that are crucial to our planet’s health. 

Many brave park rangers and law enforcement officers are fighting wildlife crimes in the field, putting their lives at risk to protect our most threatened species. But wildlife conservation is a shared responsibility. On World Wildlife Day, I call on people around the world to help raise awareness and to take personal action to help ensure the survival of the world’s big cats and all its precious and fragile biological diversity.

Video message by John E Scanlon for World
Wildlife Day 2018

World Wildlife Day has a star-studded cast this year, featuring the cheetah, clouded leopard, jaguar, leopard, lion, puma, snow leopard and tiger!

These majestic predators inspire us with their beauty, their speed, their strength, and their raw energy – and over the years they have also inspired the makers of fast cars, elite sports teams and high-fashion the world over.

But big cats face many threats to their survival in the wild, be it loss of habitat and prey, poaching and smuggling, human-wildlife conflict or climate change. We estimate tiger populations dropped by 95% in the last 100 years, and lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years.

The impacts of losing big cats goes way beyond the species themselves. They form an irreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth, which must be protected.

There is hope. People have caused these threats to our big cats and people can also choose to resolve them. A crisis can still be averted, if we take action now!

‘Predators under threat’, the theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day, shines a spotlight on the pressing need for people the world over to take action to make sure big cats survive in the wild.

We all have a role to play in securing the future of these magnificent animals. 

The use of modern technology is giving us new insights into big cats and inspired actions are underway right across the globe to save these iconic animals. Well-managed protected areas are giving big cats the wild spaces they need to roam and to hunt, creative ways are being found for people and wild animals to co-exist in harmony and CITES is providing the international legal protection big cats need from illegal trade and over exploitation.    

This special day on the United Nations calendar gives us the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of big cats and to galvanize support for the many bold initiatives that are underway to save them.

On 3rd March 2018, World Wildlife Day, let’s make sure that all of us – no matter who we are or where we are – give big cats the special attention and the big support they deserve!​

John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES


On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 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 designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar. World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.

World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2018 under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat".  

Big cats are among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years. But a range of measures are underway to arrest this decline.

In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar -- the 4 largest wild cats that can roar - but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Big cat species are found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America, representing a virtually global distribution, and representations of big cats, such as for car logos,  by sporting clubs and the fashion industry, are used globally.

Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species. Through World Wildlife Day big cats will generate the level of attention they all deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come.




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