In response to growing concern about illegal trade in wildlife, the US Department of State has declared 4 December as Wildlife Conservation Day and is calling for individuals across the world to support threatened species by signing up to a Wildlife Pledge. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) welcomes this initiative given the recent escalation of poaching for a number of species that is compromising decades-long efforts towards the conservation and sustainable use of wild species.
Wildlife Conservation Day promotes the conservation and protection of threatened species, specifically elephants, rhinos and tigers and raises awareness about the harmful security, economic and environmental effects of wildlife poaching and trafficking. To help combat wildlife crime by reducing consumer demand, individuals are encouraged to take a Wildlife Pledge to become a more responsible consumer and learn about the products they purchase so that they can help protect wildlife.
Many people depend on wildlife and plants directly for their livelihoods, food, fuel, shelter and medicines. Many populations consider some charismatic species as part of their natural heritage and these species often provide revenues from tourism that not only contributes to local economies but also to the continuity of conservation efforts. However, over-exploitation puts the survival of many species at risk. The monitoring and regulation of wildlife trade is therefore essential in the protection of wild species.
“Some species like tigers have been on a continuing decline for a long time and are on the brink of extinction but others like African elephants and white rhinos were faring much better, at least in some parts of their range as a result of conservation work. We cannot let organized crime reduce decades of effort to zero,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme, and Director, Save Our Species (SOS). “IUCN and its Species Survival Commission (SSC) are contributing to this effort by gathering and analyzing information; advising international processes such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES); and also supporting action on the ground.”
Thanks to the unmatched expertise provided by SSC, IUCN is well placed to provide very specific information and guidance for many targeted species such as elephants and rhinos. In collaboration with TRAFFIC International, the wildlife monitoring network, it also provides an independent and science based analysis of the proposals to amend the CITES Appendices which list the species affected by international trade.
Thanks to SOS (Save Our Species), the global coalition initiated by IUCN, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank, support is being given to several conservation projects aimed at reducing poaching of some of the most threatened species worldwide and some of the species most targeted by poaching. For example, SOS is working with The WILD Foundation to protect Mali’s remaining elephants; with Save the Rhino International to monitor Namibia’s Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); as well as with both the Malaysian Nature Society and Wildlife Conservation Society to conserve tigers in Southeast Asia. It recently announced new projects with the International Rhino Foundation to prevent poaching of the Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
In general a cornerstone of these projects is promoting a tradition of conservation through direct community participation in species protection. To reduce poaching risks, the projects employ a range of strategies including the equipping and training of personnel for anti-poaching patrolling; community oriented resource management initiatives; eco-tourism alternatives; education; and awareness raising activities.
If you would like to make your pledge to protect and respect the world’s wildlife you can do it now at www.wildlifepledge.org.