World Wildlife Day

by Catie Brown
Three guanacoes in Torres del Paine national park, Patagonia, Chile

Today is the 7th annual World Wildlife Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013. Today not only marks the day the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was signed in 1973, but this year specifically is a big one for biodiversity. 2020 has been distinguished as a ‘biodiversity super year’, “a major opportunity to bring nature back from the brink”. We’ve all seen the statistics. Desertification, deforestation, and ocean pollution continues despite the fact that “1.6 billion people rely on forests to live, including 70 million indigenous people”, “74 percent of the poor are directly affected by land degradation globally”, and “one million species face extinction”. 

That is why the theme for World Wildlife Day this year is “sustaining all life on earth” which “encompasses all wild animal and plant species as a component of biodiversity, as well as the livelihoods of people, especially those who live closest to nature”. This day has become the most celebrated day recognizing the role that wildlife and biodiversity play in protecting our planet and all of its inhabitants. 

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What Can We Do? 

No, it is not expected of us to cut carbon emissions by the percentage needed to mitigate climate change or change entire economies to sustainable business models on our own, as great as that would be. The Convention on Biological Diversity explained that between $150 and $440 billion USD is required to halt biodiversity loss, according to the UN. But we do have the power to make a change in our lives that ripples throughout the community. We have all felt the impact that one teenage girl made.

Of course, the biggest step you can take is to invest time in learning about issues related to wildlife protection. You can sign up for alerts from the Animal Welfare Institute, volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and look into joining the Endangered Species Coalition Activist Network. You can also sign up for weekly email newsletters created by The New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, or Scientific American who have specialized newsletters that focus specifically on climate change and wildlife issues. 

You can also make some small changes to make your home safe for wildlife passing through. By securing lids to garbage and recycling bins that stay outside, you can prevent animals from getting into your garbage and consuming dangerous substances. You can also reduce water usage in your home by taking shorter showers, washing dishes without leaving the sink running, and turning off the sprinkler until you need it. Also, consider putting decals on your windows too, which can prevent birds from flying into them and hopefully decreasing the millions of bird collisions that occur annually. Finally, drive slowly in areas where there could be an animal crossing, the laws of the road are only known to humans. 

Finally, every purchase is a vote of support. Although it is not always affordable or available when you can try to invest in products that make a commitment to protecting this earth. Look into natural replacements for poisonous and harmful herbicides. When traveling, avoid buying souvenirs that are made from or threaten endangered species, like ivory, feathers, and furs. Write, email, and reach out to your elected officials to protect the biodiversity and life in your communities. 

#DoOneThingToday to help the world’s biodiversity and the world can be a better place tomorrow. 

Common European Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). River kingfisher flying after emerging from the water with caught fish prey in its beak

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