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 trafficking. Across every continent governments and citizens are tackling both demand and supply – making wildlife crime much riskier and far less profitable.

Although overall levels of poaching and smuggling remain far too high, we are seeing improvements in some countries and with some wildlife populations. We are beginning to turn the tide on wildlife trafficking – but much still remains to be done – and success, very often, comes down to the actions of committed individuals. That is why this year we are rallying around the theme “the future of wildlife is in our hands.”

The 3rd of March is an opportunity for all of us – no matter who we are or where we are – to commit to securing a sustainable future for wild animals and plants, as well as for ourselves. Our collective success will rely upon the individual actions taken by each one of us – by you and by me.

Join us in celebrating World Wildlife Day 2016!

John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES