National Wildlife Day

Happy National Wildlife Day from Eco18! Today is a day for spreading gratitude and awareness for the wonderful plant and animal species around us, our companions on this big blue planet. Habitat destruction, species endangerment, and biodiversity loss are words we regularly see in the papers today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Many places live in harmony with their surroundings and respect other species. Have you heard of the deer in Nara, Japan or the chickens of Key West, Florida? We’ve highlighted some places known for their unique relationships with local wildlife and the conservation networks that watch out for them. Check it out below. 

Nara, Japan 

Image by BigGabig 

Nara used to be the capital city of Japan in the 8th-century and therefore it boasts many beautiful examples of temple architecture and Japanese art. Just a day trip away from Kyoto and Osaka, the small city contains some UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a stomping ground for the famous Nara deer. The Shika deer — numbering over 1,000 — roam freely around the city and in and around Nara Park and are known to be somewhat mischievous. 

Key West, Florida 

Image via The Southernmost Point by Ricky Nations 

The roosters of Key West, Florida — called ‘gypsy chickens’ — have a history. Cock-fighting became illegal in the state in the 1970s, and since then, the roosters and hens have roamed free as the locals do. While things remain peaceful at present, Floridians are divided on how they feel about the constant crowing of the roosters and how large the population of chickens is getting. However, to keep the waters calm, the city has a wildlife center with a program to ‘resolve human-chicken conflict’ that helps to relocate some chickens to organic farms to be natural pest controllers. 

Boulders Beach, South Africa

Image by Anyaberkut

The penguins of Boulders Beach in South Africa are survivors and have found their haven on the sandy beaches of South Africa. These African penguins moved to South Africa when their habitats were destroyed from commercial fishing and habitat destruction in 1983, but they live now along the South African coast from the southern end of Namibia to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Boulder Beach is under the care and protection of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area and the penguin population, which in 1982 had only “two breeding pairs remaining” now has “over 3,000 birds”. 

What Can We Do? 

“If we save our wild spaces, we will ultimately save ourselves.”

Steve Irwin, famous wildlife conservationist

What can we do to help save our endangered flora and fauna? The first step is education. When we care enough to educate ourselves and those around us on the species that are endangered in our own local regions, our nations, our planets, we are taking the first step towards protecting our ecosystems. 

Once we have this knowledge, use it by growing native plants and being aware of the risks you pose to your natural environment. This looks different for everyone: whether it’s investing in plastic-free materials, using less water, or using natural fertilizers and gardening techniques, taking the time to think of the consequences of our actions on our environment can only help. Also, check out organizations like The National Wildlife Federation, the Wildlife Conservation Network, the World Wildlife Fund, The Endangered Species Coalition, or the International Land Conservation Network, and see what your country or region is up to with conservation and habitat rehabilitation. 

Catie Brown

Although I’ve always loved writing, I embarked on my journey into science journalism about three years ago. I am fascinated by all things water — oceans, ice, coral reefs, currents, extreme weather, sanitation, energy, and (of course!) climate change. I also love looking into the different ways we talk about climate change as a social, cultural, economic, spiritual, and political crisis. Big thanks to coffee and chemistry jokes for keeping me going. Happy reading!