FEATURE STORY November 28, 2017

Act now to save wildlife: 5 actions that make a difference

World Bank Group

Humanity is facing a wildlife crisis. Animals around the world are threatened by habitat destruction, and a rising demand for wildlife products has led to massive poaching and trafficking.

Each year over 30,000 elephants are poached for their ivory; just 4% of wild tigers remain compared to a century ago; an African rhino is poached every eight hours; and more than 1 million pangolins have been traded illegally since 2000, making them the most trafficked wild mammal in the world.

“Poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking are reaching unprecedented levels, robbing the livelihoods of local communities and eroding the global commons,” said Naoko Ishii, Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson

We need to act now.

The Global Wildlife Program (GWP) is responding to this crisis. And you can, too. 

"Most people are shocked when they learn iconic species such as rhinos, tigers, and elephants could face extinction in our lifetime, yet they feel helpless to act. Each individual action has a ripple effect and every person can make a difference—through a critical mass we can turn the tide."
Claudia Sobrevila
GWP Program Manager


Here are five ways you can be a part of the solution to conserve wildlife, their environment and support local communities:

1.      Engage with the conservation community. The ways to contribute are vast—from supporting park rangers who risk their lives everyday as the first line of defense in protecting wildlife from armed poachers, to donating to foundations caring for orphaned and injured wildlife, to supporting high-profile campaigns to stop demand, or by writing letters to your policy makers to ask them to help save vanishing species.

2.      Visit a national park to support the wildlife economy, promote sustainable tourism and be touched and captivated by nature.

3.      Reduce demand for illegal wildlife parts and products by not purchasing products made from these items—as our partner WildAid says: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

4.      Commit to learning more about the risks to wildlife and their habitats and reducing your carbon footprint to keep forests, wildlife and oceans healthy and intact.

5.      Use the power of your network to inspire others to act by spreading the word about the issues facing different species and communicating the gravity and urgency of the situation.

These actions are paying off:

“Public awareness and support for ending the ivory trade increased dramatically in recent years and the price of ivory in China has dropped by 65% over the past two years, indicating significantly reduced demand,” said WildAid Program Director John Baker.

Baker said over the past five years WildAid and their campaign ambassadors in China and other countries have been calling for consumers to stop buying ivory while also urging support for an ivory ban. With the help of global efforts across conservation partners and government institutions, China recently announced a complete domestic ivory ban, with plans to close all remaining ivory carving factories and retail shops by the end of 2017.

Wild Aid’s campaigns on rhino horn in both China and Vietnam are yielding positive results too by changing attitudes. Surveys show the number of people in China who think that poaching is a serious or very serious threat to rhinos has risen from 74% in 2012 to 95% in 2017. Their work is helping to dispel myths such as rhino horn being a cure for cancer by educating the public that rhino horn is simply made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails.

While the latest report from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) shows dramatic losses of elephants due to poaching in Central Africa, and that ivory seizures are at a record high, overall elephant poaching in Africa declined for the fifth consecutive year, with a decline in Eastern Africa to pre-2008 levels. “This shows us what is possible through sustained and collective front-line enforcement and demand reduction efforts, coupled with strong political support,” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General.

Another GWP partner, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), points to their recent successes resulting from direct individual action:

  • More than 1 million WWF supporters spoke up for elephants, the most successful petition drive ever for WWF US, as well as the most significant petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received from any single organization on a single issue. In combination with a multi-year campaign by WWF, the efforts resulted in new ivory regulations that will help shut down commercial elephant ivory trade in the United States.
  • WWF US activists who participated in a cyber-spotting program to identify illegal wildlife crime activities across three different online platforms flagged a total of 776 advertisements that were trafficking illegal wildlife trade, which were then removed from the websites.  
  • Thousands of people have created and sent in personal cards to wildlife rangers across the world recognizing the important work they are doing. 

These examples are hopeful, but much work remains to be done on behalf of wildlife.

What action will you take today?

Learn more: http://www.worldbank.org/global-wildlife-program

About the Global Wildlife Program

Led by the World Bank and funded by the GEF, the GWP is a $131 million global partnership that coordinates with partners in 19 countries across Asia and Africa to support actions on the ground to improve wildlife and protected area management, enhance community livelihood benefits, strengthen law enforcement, reduce demand of illegal wildlife products and accelerate learning on relevant topics on the illegal trade of wildlife.

Many of the GWP’s national projects invest in activities that involve the active participation of individuals and communities in wildlife conservation so they may benefit from the economic value of wildlife through tourism or alternative livelihoods in order to sustain conservation efforts.

In Africa, the GWP has programs in Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In Asia, programs are in Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), partner with the governments or other executing partners to implement the national projects.

The GWP’s collaborative partners include the GEF, the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) including the CITES Secretariat, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Traffic, WildAid, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and WWF.