For millennia, people and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine and spiritual sustenance. Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage. That is why the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March – the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – as World Wildlife Day.
Despite its intrinsic value to sustainable development and human well-being, wildlife is under threat. Some of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser-known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction. A major cause is habitat loss. Another is the increase in illicit trafficking.
The environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. Of particular concern are the implications of illicit trafficking for peace and security in a number of countries where organized crime, insurgency and terrorism are often closely linked.
While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts. On this inaugural World Wildlife Day, I urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably.
Let us work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony. Let’s go wild for wildlife!