This is a belated post, the United Nations official World Wildlife Day was celebrated yesterday, and I am disappointed that time and commitments conspired against publishing before now. However, with slightly more time to think, we should celebrate wildlife, care about wildlife, want to conserve wildlife every day. So maybe this is a belated post, relevant whether it’s an officially sanctioned day or not.
“On this World Wildlife Day, I call on all citizens, businesses and governments to play their part in protecting the world’s wild animals and plants. The actions taken by each of us will determine the fate of the world’s wildlife. The future of wildlife is in our hands!”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Read about my encounter with gorillas here: Trekking for Gorillas in the Mist – Rwanda
See more images of bald eagles here: Bald Eagles in Flight; The Prince Rupert Airshow
This is the statement released by Ban Ki-moon and there is a great deal of truth in his words; conservation of wildlife, protection of habitats and safeguarding the welfare of our planet is the responsibility of all. We all need to play our part, cutting down on waste, using our cars less, reducing the amount of fossil fuels we burn, boycotting the sale of endangered species or products sourced from them, withdrawing support for companies or countries which continue to profit from or ignore these issues.
It is the responsibility of all to place pressure on the faceless conglomerates that value financial gain above the interests of all, above the welfare of the planet. Short term gain is all important to them, only interested in profiteering from pillaging the planet. They actively use misinformation spread by tame scientists to convince us they are doing nothing wrong and lobby governments to ensure they continue to profit from the damage they continue to cause.
It is heartening, and to the credit of the UN that a prestigious organisation has chosen to highlight the plight of endangered wildlife, and the challenges our planet continues to face. However, we should remind ourselves why there are endangered lists, why the planet is threatened; in almost every case the cause is humankind.
Read my post on the detrimental effect of humanity on earth here: Anthropocene Epoch – Our unwelcome ‘viral’ impact
I’ve been extremely fortunate to enjoy some amazing wildlife encounters, the images of several of these are shared here. The concern is, will it still be possible in a couple of generations time? Will our grandchildren still be able to witness polar bears hunting in the wild fifty years time, will there be elephants, lions or rhinos on the plains of Africa one hundred years from now or will there be a single Amur leopard in the wild even in ten years?
Maybe if we act now!
Polar bears in particular have become the poster boys of the conservation movement. Their annual struggle to survive as polar ice retreats, reducing their hunting grounds has been one of the most obvious and dramatic results of climate change. Their plight has become one of the rallying cries for environmental change throughout the world.
Read more about my encounter with polar bears in Manitoba here: Manitoba, Land of Polar Bears and Northern Lights
It is not just iconic creatures like polar bears at risk however, there are many more less lauded species at risk; amphibians in particular, a whole animal class is living on the brink. The main reasons are habitat destruction, their delicate membrane like skin is especially susceptible to environmental change and let’s not forget we eat some of them.
Read about how our eating habits have a detrimental effect on wildlife here:
Cultural Immersion – Local Cuisine and Global Shame
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom, those that care about our planet are many, and if we act now, it still isn’t too late. We have to take responsibility however, both individually and collectively, the small changes we are able to make in our daily lives can have a profound accumulative effect on the planet.
- Conserve water
- Reduce the use of chemicals and dispose of toxic chemicals correctly
- Use less electricity
- Drive less and wherever possible fly less
- Buy locally produced goods, cuts down on pollution through transportation
- Establish a wildlife haven in your garden
There are further tips on saving the planet here: 50 Ways to Help the Planet
An uncomfortable fact is that it isn’t merely the responsibility of governments, energy companies or conservation organisations; it is our responsibility. The decisions we make on a daily basis will determine the fate of our planet and the wildlife we share it with.
What will be the legacy of our generation, will we be remembered as the generation that destroyed or saved the planet?
Planet Earth will survive us, it will be here long after we have plundered all resources, caused untold damage, some of which may be irrevocable, but eventually it will outlive us.
The World Wildlife Day is not merely about highlighting the plight of endangered species, it is about celebrating the amazing diversity of life. Our planet is about all creatures great and small, in our arrogance we have considered ourselves among the great, but are we any more special than the great whales, than intelligent, gentle gorillas, than birds, the masters of flight or even than colourful, delicate butterflies which travel the length of continents on incredible migratory journeys.
This post celebrates World Wildlife Day, not a day late, but perhaps a generation late. We need to recognise the treasure nature has provided, the true wealth of our planet, the enormous variety of flora and fauna, with which we share this big blue marble.
Some of the encounters were almost life changing, providing many unforgettable moments. Hopefully, this photo essay still expresses optimism, hoping many others will have the opportunity to experience similar, and other exciting, yet humbling encounters, but even more importantly so will our grandchildren!