Wildlife plays an important role in our lives and has aided and benefited us in our progression throughout the times. Humans, animals, and nature alike all depend on each other for survival. It is therefore important that we observe World Wildlife Day on 3 March every year. This is an opportunity to not only celebrate fauna and flora, but also to help preserve it. The theme set out by the United Nations for World Wildlife Day 2017 is “Listen to the young voices.”

Crimes against wildlife and forests

Crimes committed against wildlife include the breaking of laws and regulations put in place to protect natural resources and manage their use. Some of these crimes are the exploitation of animals through poaching, taking rare plants, unauthorised cutting down of trees, and hiding or smuggling these for financial benefit.

World Wildlife Day gives us the opportunity to get involved in fighting these crimes, which have a dire social and environmental impact. The UN also urges all members of the global society to help curb illegal wildlife trade, as wildlife and forest crimes are a global phenomenon, and not just limited to certain areas of the world.

According to Peace Parks Foundation, “Environmental crime is vastly expanding and increasingly endangering not only wildlife populations but entire ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and revenue streams to governments.”

2 Rhinoceros in the savana

Listen to the young voices

The 2017 theme for World Wildlife Day, “Listen to the young voices,” is fitting, as roughly one quarter of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. This means that the youth are the future leaders who will make the big and important decisions. World Wildlife Day therefore encourages young people to actively get involved in addressing the threat to wildlife.

One of the ways in which we can help stop wildlife crimes and raise awareness is through signing petitions. Some petitions can help change certain laws, help scale up the efforts to protect wildlife, and push for all people to pledge to stop buying illegal animal products and plants. Helping to get donations is also a good way to get involved. Some donations are aimed at raising funds to support the brave men and women who are in the front lines trying to protect animals and plants, e.g. rangers and nature conservationists. Other funds support the efforts to restore and preserve plant life. We can also volunteer ourselves to spread awareness and educate others about wildlife and how it can be preserved. There are also organisations who offer opportunities for people to come and help out and learn more. One such initiative is the African Conservation Foundation’s Wildlife Conservation Training.

While many efforts and gains are being made in the fight to protect and preserve our wildlife globally, more needs to be done. It is also up to every single person in their own communities to spread the word and get involved in this fight. Youth are the agents of change and have the power to make an incredible impact on wildlife and to curb the crimes committed against it.

Let’s all rally together and join in observing World Wildlife Day today – 3 March 2017 – for a better world that will ensure a better and more sustainable future for generations to come.