First Ever World Wildlife Day Spotlights Illicit Wildlife Trade

First Ever World  Wildlife Day Spotlights   Illicit Wildlife Trade

Rhinos- Image courtesy of UNEP

Mar 03, 2014
Nairobi, 3 March 2014 -The United Nations' inaugural World Wildlife Day kicks off today with events around the world, as global attention turns to a US $19 billion illicit trade - the fourth largest in the world - that includes elephant poaching, great ape theft and the illegal transport of timber.

The third of March was also the day of adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.

The United Nations' first World Wildlife Day coincides with renewed attention being paid to the escalating crisis of wildlife poaching. While providing us with an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic diversity of life on earth it also reminds us of the urgency and responsibility to care for and protect it," said UN Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"While governments have a key role to play, we as citizens of countries across the globe have a vital role to play in shutting down the markets that sustain this illegal trade which threatens the survival of iconic species such as elephants and rhinos, but also of other threatened animal and plant species.

For the past four decades UNEP has worked to support nations to establish legislation at both the national and the global level to combat poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife. This has helped countries to more effectively protect our wildlife heritage. Environmental crime continues to undermine these efforts. World Wildlife Day is an opportunity for all of us to reconnect to this vital and urgent cause," he added.

In its resolution designating World Wildlife Day, the General Assembly requested the CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with relevant organizations of the United Nations system, to facilitate the implementation of the Day.

Among other things, the resolution recognized the intrinsic value of wildlife and its many contributions to human well-being and sustainable development, including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational and cultural.

Estimated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at US $19 billion, the illicit trade in wildlife denies humanity of these essential services, and contributes to the rapid decrease in the numbers of thousands of species worldwide.

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