Inaugural World Wildlife Day Brings Dire Warnings
“Some of the world’s most charismatic animals are in immediate danger of extinction as a result of habitat loss and illicit trafficking,” warned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as the world marks the first World Wildlife Day.
From Geneva to Tokyo and from New York to Nairobi, people around the world are attending special events to mark the day in Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Germany, Mongolia, New Zealand, Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others.
At UN Headquarters in Geneva at the opening of the “Wild and Precious” exhibition, featuring photographs of dancing manta rays, elephants, apes and majestic trees, Ban said today, “Wildlife is part of our shared heritage. We need it for our shared future.”
“Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage,” said Ban, calling on all countries to protect biological diversity and halt environmental crimes.
“While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts,” he said.
UN General Assembly President John Ashe, who is also in Geneva, said, “The exhibition we open today illustrates how animals, insects, plants and trees are all unique pieces forming the beautiful mosaic of our natural environment. Not only do they sustain our livelihoods, they are an integral part of our cultural heritage through tales and legends, symbols and traditions.”
“In the complex symphony of nature, each and every species plays an essential part to maintain the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystems,” said Ashe.
The UN General Assembly designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day to mark the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, an international agreement by the governments of 176 UN Member States.
Administered by the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, in Geneva, its aim is to ensure that global trade in some 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.
CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said, “We are thrilled by the enthusiasm and overwhelming support for wildlife coming from so many places and people. It gives us great hope that we can secure a sustainable future for wild plants and animals, as well as for ourselves.”
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