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Tackling wildlife trade and empowering youth on World Wildlife Day

Tackling wildlife trade and empowering youth on World Wildlife Day

According to the BBC, African Elephant numbers have decreased by 30% since 2009

Sponsored: Today (3 March) is World Wildlife Day.

For the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), it is an important opportunity to highlight the plight of the many animals with which we share our planet, and how we all have a part to play in their protection.

IFAW works around the world to protect elephants, rhinos, tigers, whales and other imperiled species from cruelty and exploitation.

With species facing more threats than ever before because of human activities, wildlife conservation has never been more paramount. The UN World Wildlife Day, which takes place globally on 3 March each year, provides an opportunity to emphasise the importance of protecting wild animals and plants.

This year, IFAW and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have partnered to end rampant illegal wildlife trade and encourage active youth involvement in wildlife protection.

The 2017 World Wildlife Day theme is “Listen to the Young Voices”.

It highlights the critical role youth have to ensure long-term wildlife conservation.

Last September, IFAW hosted the inaugural Youth Forum for People and Wildlife in South Africa. Thirty-four delegates, ages 18 to 25, shared individual animal rescue and species conservation ideas amongst themselves and member nations at CITES CoP17. They hailed from 25 countries and were chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.

Inspired by their experience, the group has since formed a global network, Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC), which officially launches today, on World Wildlife Day 2017.

‘Today we are reminded to listen to young voices and harness their energy and creativity for lasting wildlife protection. I am proud of our next generation of conservation leaders especially those at Youth for Wildlife Conservation,’ said Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO.

‘They are bringing together their expertise in diverse fields such as research, genetics, law and animal rescue, united by their willingness to collaborate, learn from each other and take action in their local communities.’

Among the many issues affecting wildlife which IFAW tackles are the ivory poaching crisis, which threatens the future survival of elephants, illegal wildlife trade in rhino horn, tiger parts, pangolin meat and scales and other trade in live animals and their parts, trophy hunting of endangered species and the commercial hunting of whales and seals.

‘Our generation has not yet succeeded in securing the future of many wild animals and plants. Meeting this challenge will now be shared with the next generation,’ said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General.

‘World Wildlife Day 2017 gives us the opportunity to inspire young people around the world to actively engage in wildlife conservation efforts. I encourage youth around the world to take a personal interest in wildlife conservation and to help fight wildlife crimes.’

The Earth is currently experiencing the worst species die-off since the dinosaurs went extinct. In terms of youth potential to tackle this crisis, individuals under 30 comprise more than 50 percent of the world’s population

Today’s World Wildlife Day event at the UN headquarters in New York, led by the President of the UN General Assembly, provides a platform for youth to voice their dedication to conservation and animal welfare with a specific focus on illicit wildlife trade.

‘We are extremely diverse in just about every way. Yet, despite our differences, when we met in South Africa at the Youth Forum, we realised we all share a common goal and a passionate commitment to wildlife conservation,’ said Josephine Crouch, Y4WC Steering Committee member.

‘We demonstrate that today’s youth, engaged in conservation efforts worldwide cannot, and will not, stay idle.’

Head to the IFAW site to find out more about the organization’s work.