World Wildlife Day is all about raising awareness of the world's wild animals and plants. It is also about celebrating wildlife, and highlighting the risks that various species face.
It is a fairly new initiative, having only been ratified at the end of 2013. Given the involvement of the UN, it is a truly global event, with countries all over the world encouraged to take part. It is not only about governments though, as it also aims to bring together organisations, individuals and the wider society with the goal of enhancing and promoting conservation and wildlife protection.
Each year the UN selects a theme to base official events on. It usually selects an animal for particular attention, but very often it also encourages member states to select an animal of their own to focus on. This brings the occasion closer to their citizens and makes it more relevant.
The main focus is on animals that are at risk, as well as issues that the UN has influence over. Poaching is one example where the UN tries to take the lead in helping authorities in affected areas clamp down on poachers, and to put an end to the international trade in illegal animal parts and products.
How People Get Involved
The UN makes a number of recommendations for how people can get involved in UN World Wildlife Day. They include:
• Use social media - people are asked to promote UN World Wildlife Day by mentioning it on social media, or by sharing posts. ‘Shout out’ cards have also been created and individuals are asked to take selfies with the cards.
• Go to the zoo – most zoos take part in UN World Wildlife Day, so the UN encourages people to go to their local zoo. They also suggest visiting national parks, botanical gardens, or museums.
• Create ambassadors – the UN wants to create Wildlife Conservation Ambassadors and encourages the public to engage with key individuals to get them to take up the role. This includes celebrities, business people, politicians, and athletes.
• Launch a campaign – to raise awareness and/or money
• Engage children – the UN encourages schools and universities to put on events and talk about wildlife
• Organise an event - like a photo exhibition or art contest. If you don't want to create one you can go along to visit one.
• Go on a parade – some local areas have parades, usually highlighting the plight of a particular animal
• Get involved with local conservation projects – the UN is a global organisation, and it has a significant role to play in protecting wildlife and promoting conservation. However, most conservation work is done in local areas with local people and communities. The UN therefore encourages people to get involved in such projects.
As you can see, most of the ideas are about raising awareness and getting more people to think about animals and wildlife. Humans are responsible for everything from the loss of habitat that many species face, to illegal poaching. The more that is known about these issues, and the more that is known about animals and other wildlife that are currently at risk, the better.
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