Messages for World Wildlife Day 2016

Message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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.  ... See more

Message from CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon

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... See more

Message from UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner

Poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife have reached unprecedented levels. From 2010 to 2012 alone, over 100,000 elephants were poached in Africa. Some rhino populations face extinction. As few as 3,200 tigers exist in the wild today. The disappearance of individual species threatens biodiversity, and by extension, the life support systems on our planet. Our responsibility is to look after wildlife. World Wildlife Day is a call to become more informed and more involved in stopping this crime against nature, communities and future generations.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director

Message from UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov

Wildlife and forest crime destroys diversity and hinders sustainable development on our planet. Billions of dollars in profit are made from this crime. In 2015, 1,175 rhinos were poached in South Africa, while Central Africa has now lost 64 per cent of its elephants in less than a decade.

The industrial scale of the killing, the heinous murder of park rangers, the seizures of shipments measured not in kilos, but tons, point to organized crime’s involvement in these acts of unconscionable greed.

If we are to conserve animal and plant species for successive generations, we must take on the criminals and end the impunity often associated with this crime.

To achieve this, an integrated approach is needed to reduce demand and interrupt supply through the seizure of shipments, assets and proceeds.  Help must also be offered to local communities to provide alternative livelihoods, build local enterprises and to empower communities to live in harmony with their surroundings.

Crimes against wildlife and forests must also be viewed as a serious crime to trigger the application of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and to enable greater international cooperation, joint operations and the sharing of information.

The future of wildlife is in our hands, but if we are to be... See more

Message from CBD Executive Secretary Braulio F. de Souza Dias

Integral to the balance of nature, wildlife nurtures us with a sense of wonder and serves as a source of inspiration. Wildlife is also the basis of biodiversity. Biodiversity in the wild is just as important to our wellbeing as biodiversity in plants and animals used for human consumption. Wildlife is incremental to forestry, fishery and tourism livelihoods around the world. Quite simply, biodiversity keep ecosystems functional providing the ecosystem services that allow us to survive, get enough food to eat and make a living.

The conservation and sustainable use of wildlife is therefore a critical component of sustainable development, and should be part of a comprehensive approach to achieving poverty eradication, food security and sustainable livelihoods.

Yet despite the clear links between wildlife, sustainable development and human wellbeing, wildlife is under immediate threat. Some of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser known and perhaps less charismatic but ecologically important plants and animals stand at the brink of extinction. Habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, pollution and poaching are among the biggest threats.

This year’s World Wildlife Day theme, “The future of wildlife is in our hands”, celebrates and pays particular focus on African and Asian elephants.  ... See more

Message from Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation

World Wildlife Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on the health of animals and plant species around the world. In a world in which our wellbeing is inextricably linked, healthy wildlife means healthier ecosystems and a healthier planet for all of us, and I’m proud to stand with all those who believe we each can and should do more to secure our shared future.

One area where we know more can and should be done is in the protection of elephants.  Between 2010 and 2012, approximately 100,000 African elephants were killed by poachers—and with approximately 96 killed every day, it’s not hard to imagine a future without these majestic creatures.  The good news is that the combined efforts of local communities, NGOs, governments, and the private sector are starting to make inroads against poaching, against poachers and on behalf of communities too often terrorized by poachers.

Indeed, poaching rates in Africa are down overall since 2011.  And last year saw important commitments by the United States and China to work together to institute near-total bans on the sale of ivory to staunch ivory demand in the two largest markets for ivory.  Once implemented, these bans will go a long way towards helping elephant populations rebound, helping protect communities that live and work alongside... See more

Message from Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, President of African Wildlife Foundation

It is amazing to think that in an age of smartphones, high-speed trains and jetliners, there are still places on this planet where herds of elephants by the hundreds trudge across savannas, and where a silverback and his mountain gorilla family spend their days eating, playing and simply living in a verdant volcanic range. In today’s modern era, these ancient scenes are truly extraordinary. They are also fragile.

Africa’s elephants, rhinos, lions and other species live on a continent and in a world that is rapidly changing. Africa’s population is the fastest growing in the world and also the youngest. The continent is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. As the infrastructure is laid to accommodate this change, so the threats to the continent’s wildlife and wild lands heighten. Shrinking and fragmenting habitats, increased human-wildlife conflict, poaching and wildlife trafficking—all of these threats challenge our ability to secure a future for wildlife, in Africa and around the world. It is a challenge I believe we are absolutely capable of overcoming, however.

It is false and frankly short-sighted to assume that in the quest for modernity, we must sacrifice our wildlife. It is possible to have smartphones and elephants, lions and railways, giraffes and high-performing schools. To realize that... See more

Message from Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks

The future of wildlife is in everybody’s hands, and at African Parks, we have more than 800 rangers who are fighting each and every day and putting their own lives on the frontline to protect Africa’s most threatened species – elephants, rhinos, lions, and gorillas. But it cannot be their fight alone; they are not just protecting their wildlife, they are protecting the world’s wildlife – yours and mine. These are species that inspire us, serve as ecosystem guardians, and their existence can support local economies. They define who we are more than we can possibly know, so it is in their survival where our own precarious future lies.

Message from the Black Mambas Anti-poaching Unit, South Africa

In a time that the world is in conflict with itself on so many issues and despite our differences and political pressures, we all have a chance to unite our cultures and put aside our differences to stand together for the wildlife that are in need of our help. The World Wildlife Day provides us this unique opportunity. This is the day that binds us together across the earth; our compassion and empathy for our wild animals and plants that have shared this planet with  us for so long. Let us make this our goal. Let us rejoice in their numbers and not only the money that we can make from their ivory, their horns, their trophies and commodities. Let us recognise that the elephants, rhinos, pangolins and lions enrich our lives and give us an identity that makes us proud to be African. Without these things, we are no longer unique. We no longer have something special to offer the world.

We, the people of this generation, are the only ones that can make our children proud of how we responded to the cries for help from our elephants and rhinos, whilst the pangolin and mighty roar of the lions fade into history. Let our children not judge us on how we let these slip through our fingers whilst we... See more

Message from Ian Somerhalder, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador

Seriously friends, World Wildlife Day is coming up on March 3rd and we need to heed the call to action which is that the future of wildlife is in our hands. This is a message of both power and privilege. We know through our work at ISF that when we take on a cause we can use our voices and actions to make a difference. And that is the best form of power. But being the custodians of the awesome and diverse creature landscape that we are so blessed with around the world is pure privilege. Aren't we just better off for knowing  that somewhere out there in our beautiful world elephants, rhinos and all sorts of other weird and wonderful animals are living life as they have for thousands of years! And aren't we worse off for knowing that they are being slaughtered in record numbers due to a lethal combination of greed, ignorance, indifference, corruption and superficial trends? It's time to use our power to stop these selfish pursuits. We are better than this and we can stop it by raising our voices and getting everyone to listen. Join me in celebrating World Wildlife Day by telling the world that we won't let this happen on our watch.