Washington, D.C. – December 4, 2012 – The Wildlife Conservation Society, in concert with the U.S. State Department, urged citizens around the world to pledge to help stop the illegal wildlife trade on Wildlife Conservation Day, December 4th.
The pledge, found online at WildlifePledge.org, was conceived by the State Department as a way of spreading awareness about wildlife trafficking and curbing demand. With help from WCS and likeminded organizations, the pledge asks signers to learn more about wildlife trafficking, spread awareness to others about this crime, and be more responsible consumers to avoid being part of the demand.
The State Department and Secretary Hillary Clinton designated December 4 as Wildlife Conservation Day in order to eliminate wildlife trafficking and urge people to respect and protect the world’s wildlife.
WCS CEO Cristián Samper issued a statement marking Wildlife Conservation Day, saying, “Illegal wildlife trafficking may prove to be the demise of many of our Earth’s species. Further, this activity – which is snuffing out the last populations of elephants, tigers and other animals -- finances organized crime and augments the spread of zoonotic diseases. There is no lack of reasons to join efforts to stop wildlife trafficking. Together, we need to protect the source, break the chain and stop demand.
“As a global conservation organization, WCS knows that the solution to this urgent crisis is three-pronged: We must increase enforcement to protect threatened populations on the ground; we must control the illegal transport and trade of wildlife products; and we must stem the demand for wildlife products through education and awareness. Without a commitment to stopping all elements of this crime, any effort to protect our world’s iconic species is doomed to fail.”
WCS is also participating in several events taking place at U.S. embassies and missions around the world, which include presentations and roundtables on the effects of trafficking on local populations of endangered wildlife.
This year, 30,000 African elephants will be killed for their ivory. It is estimated that 448 black rhinos were poached this year in South Africa alone, due to demand for their horns in Southeast Asia and China. Today, only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild because so many have been killed for their parts. More than 25 million sharks are killed each year, many of which are endangered, only for their fins. This type of wildlife trafficking threatens security and the rule of law, undermines conservation efforts, robs local communities of their economic base, and contributes to the emergence and spread of disease.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.