On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.
World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2017 under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices.” Given that almost one quarter of the world’s population is aged between 10 and 24, vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife.
The engagement and empowerment of youth is high on the agenda of the United Nations and this objective is being achieved through the youth programmes of various UN system organizations as well as the dedicated UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.
In September 2016, Parties to CITES gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) and adopted the very first CITES resolution on ‘Youth Engagement’ – calling for greater engagement and empowerment of youth in conservation issues.
World Wildlife Day 2017 encourages youth around the world to rally together to address ongoing major threats to wildlife including habitat change, over-exploitation or illicit trafficking. Youth are the agents of change. In fact, we are already seeing the positive impacts on conservation issues made by some young conservation leaders around the world. If they can help make a change, you can too!
Governments, law makers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. It is also up to every citizen, young and old, to protect wildlife and their habitats. We all have a role to play. Our collective conservation actions can be the difference between a species surviving or disappearing.
It’s time for us all to listen to the young voices.
On May 26 1998, the Thai government declared that March 13 would annually be Thai National Elephant Day or Chang Thai Day. The observance was suggested by the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand and submitted to the Coordinating Subcommittee for the Conservation of Thai Elephants. The date was chosen because the Royal Forest Department designated the white elephant as the national animal of Thailand on March 13 1963.
Thai people have had a close-knit relationship with elephants since ancient times, with the elephant playing a significant role in transportation, labour and battle. Considered the national animal of Thailand, the elephant has faced threats to its existence because of habitat invasion by humans and climate change, amongst other factors. The number of Thai elephants has been reduced from 100,000 to 2,000–3,000 wild elephants and about 2,700 domesticated elephants over the past 100 years.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.
A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.
World Ranger Day commemorates rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, and celebrates the work rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
World Ranger Day is observed annually on the 31st of July, and is promoted by the 63 member associations of the International Ranger Federation.
Bringing the world together to help elephants
World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants.
The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. African elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. One conservationist has stated that both African and Asian elephants face extinction within twelve years. The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants, although it has been argued that these numbers are much too high.
The demand for ivory, which is highest in China, leads to the illegal poaching of both African and Asian elephants. For example, one of the world’s largest elephants, Satao, was recently killed for his iconic tusks. Another iconic Kenyan elephant, Mountain Bull, was also killed by poachers, and with the street value for ivory now exceeding that of gold, African elephants face a poaching epidemic. Elephants are also poached for meat, leather, and body parts, with the illegal wildlife trade putting elephants increasingly in danger, because it is perceived to be a low risk and high profit endeavor.
The loss of habitat due to deforestation, increases in mining, and agricultural activities has become problematic, especially for Asian elephants. The fragmentation of habitat also creates isolation – this makes breeding more difficult, and allows poachers to find the elephants and set traps more easily.
Human-elephant conflict is a significant concern, as human populations increase and forest cover decreases, forcing elephants into close proximity with human settlements. Incidents include crop damage and economic losses, as well as both elephant and human casualties.
The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Annual Conference is the largest, most comprehensive zoo and aquarium professionals’ event in the country. The Conference offers attendees valuable networking and learning opportunities, and the chance to explore cutting-edge product and service providers.
Attending the AZA Annual Conference provides opportunities to:
- Explore ideas and best practices with more than 150 education program sessions, poster presentations, and round-table topic discussions;
- Discover successes and lessons learned from a community of veterans and young professionals – large and small facilities alike;
- Experience new technology and services in a diverse Exhibit Hall featuring more than 150 companies and organizations showcasing their latest products;
- Connect with more than 2,800 dedicated colleagues at AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos who share a common vision to protect and save species.
25 Things You Should Know on Elephant Appreciation Day
- As of 2002, it was estimated that 30,000 – 50,000 Asian elephants survive in the world; some experts believe that in 2013 the number is closer to 30,000.
- More than 13,000 of the above number are maintained in human care in Asian elephant range countries.
- There are only 10 regions in all of Asia where elephant numbers total at least 1,000 individual animals.
- Although some African elephant populations are still increasing in excess of the carrying capacity of their habitat, elephants in many countries in East, Central and West Africa are subject to poaching and populations are being decimated.
- Consistently throughout Asia and Africa, human elephant conflict is on the rise. As humans increase our food supply to meet the needs of our population, existing elephant habitat is turned into cropland and the elephants find themselves competing for resources with people.
- Elephants have hair all over their bodies.
- Elephants have eyelashes.
- The African elephant is the largest living land mammal.
- The elephant trunk serves as a nose, a hand, an extra foot, a signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and much more.
- Elephants can live in nearly any habitat that has adequate quantities of food and water. Ideally, their habitat consists of an abundance of grass.
- Only the male Asian elephants have tusks.
- The tusks of elephants grow through their life. The tusks weigh over 200 pounds.
- Elephants don’t drink with their trunks, but use them as “tools” to drink with. This is accomplished by filling the trunk with water and then using it as a hose to pour it into the elephant’s mouth.
- Elephants can swim – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.
- Elephants have a slower pulse of 27 and for a canary it is 1000!
- The elephant is the only mammal that can’t jump.
- The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months.
- The elephant is the national animal of Thailand.
- An elephant’s tooth can weight as much as three kilograms.
- An elephant in the wild can eat anywhere from 100 – 1000 pounds of vegetation in a 16 hour period.
- The intestines of an elephant may be 19 meters in length, or more than 60 feet long.
- Elephants purr like cats do, as a means of communication.
- In a day, an elephant can drink 80 gallons of water.
- Elephants have been known to learn up to 60 commands.
- An elephant’s trunk can hold 2.5 gallons of water
It’s time for us all to listen to the young voices.