Messages for World Wildlife Day 2018

Message from António Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations

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... See more

Message from Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UN Office on Drugs and Crime

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. But like other big cat species, it cannot outrun the threat of extinction.

This year, the theme of World Wildlife Day — “Big cats: predators under threat" — is bringing much-needed attention to the urgent challenges faced by these majestic animals.

Across the world, lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars, as well as many other big cat species, are under pressure due to poaching, lost habitats and disappearing prey.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is working to help countries criminalize wildlife poaching and trafficking as a means of protecting animals, including big cat species, and halting their tragic disappearance into history.

Our collective roar of defiance must be aimed at the poachers, traffickers and all those who would destroy our natural heritage. We must not let them succeed.

On Wildlife Day I call on everyone to work with the international community to stop wildlife crime and prevent the world’s big cat species from sliding into extinction.

Message from Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment

This year’s World Wildlife Day focuses on the most fierce and spectacular of earth’s creatures –big cats. People and big cats share an unusual relationship. We have long associated them with courage and power; the king of the jungle. We name luxury cars and sports brands after them. And they are synonymous with high fashion. But we haven’t been paying enough attention to their protection. If we don’t start now, then all we may have left is the name of a brand, or a photo in a children’s book.

Big cats are predators under threat. Their numbers and habitats are shrinking rapidly.  The mighty lion has vanished from 90% of its natural habitat, and is found only in parts of Africa and one forest in India. As recently as a century ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers in Asia. Today, there remain approximately 3,900 of these magnificent big cats in the wild.

When you protect big cats, you protect the habitats that regulate climate, provide clean air, rainfall, and protect the rich biodiversity, human and animal, that depend on them.

More and more, this relationship is challenged by land degradation, habitat loss and wildlife trafficking that threaten the survival of big cats around the world. As farms, cities and... See more

Message from John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES

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... See more

Message from Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of CMS

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day campaign is particularly relevant to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) – especially after the decision at last year’s Conference of the Parties in Manila to add the Lion and the Leopard to the Convention’s Appendices, joining the Snow Leopard and the Cheetah.

Initiatives such as World Wildlife Day are invaluable weapons in the fight to conserve endangered wildlife because of the vital role they play in raising public awareness and making the case for action to ensure the survival of our natural heritage.

Clearly all is not well when the Lion, the “King of the Beasts”, is undergoing dramatic population declines in its African heartlands – and there are similar causes for concern relating to the Leopard, the Cheetah and the Snow Leopard.  We know what the pressures are – poaching, habitat loss, conflicts with livestock owners – and we know that the solutions lie in involving local communities in conservation efforts, combatting illegal trade and taking environmental considerations into account in planning processes.

Paris without the Eiffel Tower?  Egypt without the Pyramids?  Unimaginable!  But the African... See more

Message from Inger Andersen, Director General of IUCN

World Wildlife Day provides an important opportunity once a year to reflect on the complex web of life that surrounds and sustains us.

The advancement of humanity has come at the expense of almost all other species. Today, the human race is at the root of the ongoing sixth mass extinction, causing damage to nature on a scale comparable to the forces that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The dramatic decline in populations of big cats – the focus of this year’s World Wildlife Day – is symptomatic of this loss. The lion population has nearly halved in the last two decades; cheetahs have gone extinct in 29 countries; and 80% of the world’s tigers have vanished from the wild over the past three tiger generations, or 21 years.

We are facing the very real possibility of seeing these titans of nature go extinct in the wild in our lifetime, on our watch.

To prevent the irreversible, we must work with the people living closest to these magnificent, but dangerous predators. Communities across Africa and Asia are the ones who face the threat of attacks by lions, tigers or leopards on humans and livestock as these animals’ habitats shrink. They are also the ones whose engagement is key to halting the decline in big cat species.

The good news is that solutions exist... See more

Message from Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International

World Wildlife Day is a great opportunity to highlight the immense – often underestimated contribution that wildlife plays in our lives beyond its profound intrinsic value. Wild living organisms are not just fascinating and awe-inspiring, they are the foundation of functioning ecosystems.

Functioning ecosystems provide us with crucial every day services, free of charge: clean water, clean air, a stable climate, fertile soils, pollination, medicines, fibre and so much more. They ensure our better health, wellbeing, societies, economies and bring us happiness. Wild plants and animals are the bricks that form the magnificent ‘great wall of life’ that makes our planet a ‘Living Planet.’ If you slowly take away one brick after the other, the wall will eventually collapse, with catastrophic consequences for the ecological balance of the planet and our own future.
This year we celebrate the ‘big cats.’ Both their decline and their protection begin with us, people. We know what it takes: respect, tolerance and enough wild space for them to thrive. We have many examples of success: the remarkable come back of tigers, the increasing coexistence between local communities and snow leopards or lions, which are now more valuable to them alive than dead.  

This is not just... See more

Message from Fred Launay, President and CEO of Panthera

In the relentless war on our planet’s wildlife, the big cats are a critical battleground. Ecologically, culturally, economically, and politically, there is no other fight where we have as much to gain—or to lose.

Our existence and that of the big cats are inextricably linked. A landscape that sustains healthy populations of big cats is abundant with wildlife, rich with carbon-absorbing forests and fertile grasslands, and thriving with the clean air and water that we need to live.

Yet the human assault on big cats continues—illegal killing for their parts, illegal killing to protect livestock, illegal killing of their prey.

But, there is hope. In small but replicable ways, we are seeing progress: increased law enforcement and prosecutions for criminals, cross-border cooperation, governments investing in their wildlife and building tourism economies, local communities engaging in conservation, and new national and international polices to combat the illegal trade in wildlife products.

We see it on the ground: where we are stopping poachers before they kill and protecting big cats, they and their landscapes are recovering. Far from being too late, the time is now to double down.

This World Wildlife Day, we ask those who love big cats to stand with Panthera... See more

Message from Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks

Predators play a critical role in the ecosystem, especially the big cats. Lions, leopards and cheetahs are synonymous with Africa – iconic creatures that represent wild, functioning landscapes. They require large areas, abundant prey, connected habitat, and by focusing on their long-term survival, we stand to gain a lot more in conservation than just focusing on these globally revered animals alone. But they are under threat, and heavily persecuted across their entire range. It’s timely that World Wildlife Day focuses on these apex species and shines a needed spotlight on the reasons for their decline, as well as the solutions that we know can work to ensure they remain on our planet long into the future.

Message from Kaddu Sebunya, President of African Wildlife Foundation

March 3, marks the World Wildlife Day, the day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants. This is a day that presents us with an opportunity for reflection on the relevance of wildlife to the people and the economies and also brings attention that these diverse and magnificent species are in danger of being extinct. The theme of this year is “Big cats: predators under threat”.

Like our wild lands, Africa’s big cats are dying off—the African lion population has declined by 43% between 1993-2014, the population of cheetahs has declined by over 30% in the last 15 years to an estimated 6,674 individuals and has lost 89% of their historic range.

Africa is at a critical juncture. If we do not make deliberate efforts to safeguard our wildlife and wild lands, our current development boom could burst our future.

Spreading deserts are threatening arable lands on the continent.

Human activities and pollution are accelerating climate change – affecting agriculture produce and the uniquely African way of life.

Deforestation rate of nearly 10,000km annually to human activities. Human sprawl, infrastructure development, detrimentally illegal practices like poaching and trafficking of illegal wildlife... See more

Message from Mingyu Liu, Representative of Youth for Wildlife Conservation

Big cats - who hasn’t been struck by their majestic charisma? Captivating generations after generations of wildlife lovers, including myself, these iconic species are truly irreplaceable. As a PhD student in Peking University, I consider myself extremely lucky to do my part for the protection of snow leopards. Inspired by the longing for equality, the search for coexistence, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of all creatures, I embrace conservation as my passion. But I also know that individual capacities are limited. For long-lasting, sustainable positive impacts, we need the collective power of a wider network!. This is especially true for youth, with people under the age of thirty representing over half of the world’s population. There is an old saying in Chinese: that “strong youth lead to a strong country”. Many young people worldwide are dedicating their careers towards  protecting the world’s most threatened species, from habitat conservation to environmental education, law enforcement and scientific research.

The fate of some of the world’s most endangered and iconic species is on the edge of existence, therefore it is becoming all the more important to engage young people in decisions affecting the world’s wildlife.

Only when our youth are empowered to... See more

Message from Japhet Jonas Mwanang`ombe, National Coordinator of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Tanzania,

Big Cats in Africa used to roam the lands of Africa and played a great role in many African ecosystems but today they face many threats, one of the greatest one is simply human conflict. Ecology and behaviour of Cheetah, leopard and Lion especially the home range overlaps, resource competition, inter and intra specific competition and territory defence played a superb natural system in a beautiful Africa`s protected Areas, but again today human habitat expansion has just continued to conflict with big cat home range, yet obvious prey behaviours and availability seems to dwindle.

We see more lions and Leopards continue to be poached in one side, farmers in another side continue to poison as a revenge to predation. As a Roots & Shoots Leaders responsible for mindset transformation and preparation of a future generation that is aware of and concerned about the values of big cats and wildlife conservation on this planet, I am in fever with the public education, awareness and information about conservation values of wildlife in Africa. I believe that the young generation do not have the rights to blame old today on the ongoing  threats  facing predators and other endangered species and can not claim to be separated from the existing struggles today. We all share the same... See more