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story-1-reviewed  UNEP ON THE GROUND
UN World Wildlife Day sees massive citizens mobilisation to protect elephants and wildlife

On 3 March, the world observed World Wildlife Day for the third time! Hundreds of local, national and global events organised by governments, UN bodies, NGOs, schools, national parks and animal lovers provided hope for our planet. The celebrations were facilitated by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


UNEP in Europe marked the day by raising the alarm for protection of the Caspian Seal, while the Geneva Environment Network and UNEP’s Brussels office meanwhile hosted or took part in screenings of the ‘Warlords of Ivory’ documentary coupled with rich debate sessions.


Global celebration

Thousands of people celebrated the many beautiful and varied forms of wild animals and plants on our planet for World Wildlife Day. The unprecedented buzz it created on social media was a clear sign of the willingness of many citizens from across the globe to play a role in protecting species facing various threats. The Day reminded us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.


The 2016 theme was ‘The future of wildlife is in our hands,’ with African and Asian elephants being the main focus of global campaigns.


A high level event in New York, co-hosted by Gabon, Germany and Thailand together with CITES, UNDP, UNEP, UNODC and the World Bank, was moderated by John E Scanlon, CITES Secretary General. Through speeches and a panel discussion, the high level event explored the nature and scale of the threat posed by illicit wildlife trafficking and the responses underway by States, within the UN and by civil society.


The CITES MIKE Programme (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) also revealed that the number of illegally killed elephants witnessed since 2006 and peaking in 2011 has stopped rising and has since stabilised - but overall levels of poaching remain unacceptably high.


“Despite the slight decline and stabilisation recorded since 2011, estimated poaching rates overall remain higher than the normal growth rate of elephant populations, or above the sustainability threshold, meaning the overall elephant population is likely to have continued to decline in 2015,” Mr Scanlon underlined.


Film festival

Another highlight of this very busy day was the announcement of the winners of the first International Elephant Film Festival co-hosted by Jackson Hole Film Festival and CITES. 29 finalists, grouped in seven different categories, were recognized for their successful efforts to explain through moving stories the threats and daily challenges elephants and people must face. The winners names, which were announced during the high level session at the United Nations, are available by clicking here.


Finally, the United Nations the same day announced plans for a Global Coalition campaign to end the illegal trade in wildlife. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on UN agencies, CITES and partners to provide a coordinated response to wildlife crime and spread the message that there should be zero tolerance for poaching.


"Time is running out to save some of the world’s most iconic species," the Secretary-General warned. "Much more needs to be done by key actors on all continents and across sectors to combat poaching and address both the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products."


For more information about World Wildlife Day 2016 please click here or write to

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