World Wildlife Conservation Day
December 4th, 2022
Since 2012, the 4th of December has been recognised as World Wildlife Conservation Day...
This honorary day was created in 2012 by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise awareness of issues including wildlife extinction, endangerment and global wildlife trafficking and poaching. Ten years later, despite efforts to decrease the number of cases of wildlife crime and levels of endangered and threatened species, human-led actions are continuing to precipitate the demise of our planet’s biodiversity.
As reported by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species, over 41,000 species are currently threatened with extinction–making up for 28 percent of all assessed species. Specifically, 27% of mammals are threatened, in addition to 13% of birds, 41% of amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 21% of reptiles, and 28% of crustaceans.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), some well-known animal species whose populations are at concerning levels include the Tapanuli orangutan (less than 800 left), tigers (around 3,900 left), the giant panda (around 1,890 left), the Amur leopard (around 100 left), the mountain gorilla (around 1,063 left) and the black rhino (around 5,000 left).
In the UK, some endangered species include the hedgehog, red squirrel, water vole, beaver, Scottish wildcat, hazel dormouse and the grey long-eared bat. The causes for their decreasing numbers include human settlements and infrastructure development, livestock production and illegal / trophy hunting.
What can I do to help?
There are many things you can do on World Wildlife Conservation Day (and every day!) that will help to protect our fellow creatures that call Earth their home.
An easy and quick way to speak up for wildlife is by signing petitions. Organisations such as WWF, World Animal Protection, Born Free and Four Paws are often asking for signatures to support their campaigns to protect wildlife. It takes less than one minute to add your name and help change the fate of these threatened animals.
Boycott the Purchase of Animal Products
Since we vote every day with our wallets by supporting businesses with our pounds, it’s important that we shop consciously and with the protection of wild animals in mind. Look out for animal products that could be in your makeup (e.g., mink eyelashes), hair supplies (e.g., boar-bristle brushes) or keepsakes (e.g., ornamental figurines made of ivory from the tusks and teeth of elephants). There are so many alternatives that don’t require the killing of the precious animals we share the Earth with (and you wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference).
A plant-based diet does not only help farm animals, by leaving them off your plate, but also wildlife! The raising of cows for meat production, for example, requires biodiverse spaces, including the Amazon rainforest, to be deforested and altered to accommodate for both the colossal amount of cattle and the production of crops to feed them. In fact, livestock production is responsible for 80 percent of the global land use for agriculture and has contributed to about 30 percent of global biodiversity loss. The production of palm oil is also hurting orangutan populations by taking away their homes. If you’re cooking up some delicious palm-oil free, vegan recipes, farm animals and wildlife alike will thank you!
Once species become extinct, there is no bringing them back. Since biodiversity loss has been led by human actions, it is our urgent responsibility to change our ways. As Secretary of State Clinton stated in her 2012 address, “…let’s face it: we can’t do this [protecting wildlife] without you. You have the choice to refuse to purchase products made from endangered wildlife; you have the choice to stand up and speak out against these criminal networks; you have the choice to hold your governments accountable for their actions to protect endangered species and stop this trade”. Let’s make the right choice of protecting the Earth’s inhabitants before we lose them for good.