Wildlife is now firmly fixed on the United Nations calendar thanks to its own special day.
On the 3rd of March 2014 the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led the global celebrations of the first World Wildlife Day and called for us to work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony.
This year, countries, United Nations and international organizations, as well as citizen’s groups from across the globe, have rallied around the theme ‘It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime’.
Illegal wildlife trade is threatening the survival of some of our most charismatic species, as well as some plants and animals you may have never heard of. And it threatens people, their livelihoods, their safety and security.
The situation is serious. We must tackle the poaching, transport and consumption of illegally traded wildlife and in so doing use the same sorts of enforcement tools, techniques and penalties used to combat other serious crimes, such as trafficking in drugs or persons.
As we celebrate the beauty and variety of our wildlife let’s do whatever we can – as citizens and as consumers – to bring this illegal trade to an end and secure a sustainable future for wild animals and plants, as well as for ourselves.
We know what needs to be done – and by working together we will succeed.
Let’s all mark this special World Wildlife Day by getting serious about wildlife crime!
John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES