World Wildlife Day Highlights Youth, Initiatives on Wildlife Crime
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The 2017 UN World Wildlife Day was celebrated globally under the theme, ‘Listen to the Young Voices,’ encouraging everyone to “do one thing today to help protect the world's wildlife".

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Programme released preliminary findings in a report titled, 'Levels and Trends of Illegal Killing of Elephants in Africa to 31 December 2016'.

INTERPOL announced the results of a global operation focused on illegal trade in wildlife and timber that resulted in the identification of nearly 900 suspects and 1,300 seizures of illicit products worth an estimated US$5.1 million.

UN Environment announced a partnership with Kenya Airways to stop wildlife trafficking.

3 March 2017: The 2017 UN World Wildlife Day was celebrated globally under the theme, ‘Listen to the Young Voices,’ and encouraged everyone to “do one thing today to help protect the world’s wildlife.” In addition to its focus on youth, the Day brought additional attention to the issues of wildlife trafficking and poaching, as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) MIKE Programme released preliminary findings on African elephant poaching and UN Environment announced a partnership with Kenya Airways to prevent wildlife trafficking.

In his message for the Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to young people to “protect their inheritance by becoming informed and acting to protect wild animals and plants from the threat of extinction,” while Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers said that young people’s “passion and idealism are essential to implementing sound conservation strategies so that wildlife and humans can coexist on the same planet.” The UN General Assembly held a high-level thematic discussion addressing both the role of youth in protecting wildlife; and illicit wildlife trafficking and the protection of wild fauna and flora.

Bradnee Chambers, CMS Executive Secretary, said that young people’s “passion and idealism are essential to implementing sound conservation strategies so that wildlife and humans can coexist on the same planet.”

CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon pointed out that, “our generation has not yet succeeded in securing the future of many wild animals and plants” and that “meeting this challenge will now be shared with the next generation.” Data suggests this is the case for the African elephant, for which the CITES MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Programme released the report, ‘Levels and Trends of Illegal Killing of Elephants in Africa to 31 December 2016 – Preliminary Findings.’ The report recalls the rapid rise in elephant poaching from 2006-2011, notes that this trend, in 2016, has been halted, but states that levels of poaching remain unacceptably high overall. Scanlon said that the report shows encouraging signs in Eastern Africa, highlighting “what is possible through a sustained and collective front-line effort coupled with strong political support.”

Also on wildlife crime, INTERPOL announced the results of a global operation focused on illegal trade in wildlife and timber that resulted in the identification of nearly 900 suspects and 1,300 seizures of illicit products worth an estimated US$5.1 million. In an op-ed published in the Huffington Post, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) Executive Director, Yury Fedotov called for the universal criminalization of wildlife crime.

Also to advance the fight against wildlife crime, UN Environment announced a partnership with Kenya Airways to cut off the transport of wildlife contraband from Africa to the Middle East and East Asia. The agency also added four celebrities and five species to its Wild for Life campaign to raise awareness on species affected by trafficking. They include Mexican actor/director Gael García Bernal as the Jaguar; youth actor, Aidan Gallagher as the Hyacinth Macaw; Indonesian actor Hamish Daud as the Sun Bear; and American actor Adrian Grenier as the Sawfish. Chinese actress Li Bingbing returns to the campaign as a Tibetan Antelope.

World Wildlife Day is observed annually on 3 March to mark the adoption of CITES and to raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. [UN Press Release] [CITES Secretary-General’s remarks at the World Wildlife Day side event hosted by the UK, CITES and WCS] [CITES Secretary-General’s remarks at UN General Assembly High-level thematic discussion] [CITES Press Release on MIKE Programme Report] [Levels and Trends of Illegal Killing of Elephants in Africa to 31 December 2016] [Messages for the Day] [CMS Press Release] [INTERPOL Press Release] [Fetdov Op Ed] [UN Environment Press Release]


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