World Environment Day is the United Nation’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. It was established in 1972 on the day when United Nations Conference on the Human Environment began. Since then it has grown to a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.
Every year World Environment Day has a different global host country and its theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. This year host country is Angola, a country which seeks to restore elephant herds due to conserving of Africa’s biodiversity rich wildlife, and the environment rebuilds after more than a quarter-century of civil war. The following theme highlights the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which erodes precious biodiversity and threatens the survival of elephants, rhinos and tigers, as well as many other species.
Through centuries of human development, many species gone extinct, mostly caused by human action – habitat destruction, increased human populations, pollution, global warming, and merciless exploitation of wildlife for our benefit which include an illegal trade of products. A number of total extinct and threatened species is unknown, but every year that number increases. In 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, while, the same year, the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon. Great apes have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, and other countries could quickly follow. Lesser-known victims include helmeted hornbills and pangolins as well as wild orchids and timbers.
This year’s theme is Zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife with the slogan “Go Wild for Life” which encourages to spread the word about wildlife crime and the damage it does, and to challenge us to do what we can to prevent it. The booming illegal trade in wildlife products robbing us of our natural heritage and leading whole species to the brink of extinction. The killing and smuggling undermining economies and ecosystems, contribute organized crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe.
To be able to reduce illegal trade, we must understand how deep impact it has and according to that, change our habits and behavior. This year’s theme should inspire us to introduce and enforce tougher laws, and with joined energy break chain of criminal wildlife activity.
World Environment Day, no matter on the theme, makes people do something to take care of the Earth or become an agent of change. Whether actions are focused locally, nationally or globally, as solo actions or as a crowd, they will make a difference. So, join the combat and act to preserve our natural heritage for the benefit of this and future generation.