World Wildlife Day shines light on codependency between humans and animals

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This article celebrates World Wildlife Day, 3 March, 2015.

 


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This year marks the second World Wildlife Day. It was created in 2013, and celebrated for the first time on March 3, 2014. Its goal is to promote awareness about the environmental conservation of both plants and animals. This year’s focus is on wildlife crime and informing the public about the dangers of poaching for both humans and animals. The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Wildlife crime is serious, let’s get serious about wildlife crime.”

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, delivered a speech calling for attention towards wildlife crime. In his address, he explained the importance of stopping wildlife crime, as it is a threat to both wildlife and human population. Stopping wildlife crime is essential to all life because “it degrades ecosystems and is a major obstacle to the efforts of rural communities and indigenous peoples striving to sustainably manage their natural resources.”[1]

More information about World Wildlife Day is on its official website as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages. Their online campaign can also be followed with the hashtag #SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime. For more innovative projects that seek to protect wildlife, click here.

Recently, the mountain gorilla habitat has been featured in the media. Only a few decades ago, mountain gorillas were thought to be almost extinct. In recent years, however, conservation efforts have allowed the population to grow.

 

Protecting Mountain Gorillas

 

Gorilla gorilla beringei  Mountain gorillaAccording to the World Wildlife Fund, mountain gorillas are considered to be critically endangered. There are roughly 880 (estimated) alive in the wild. They live in two locations: the Virunga Mountains (which border Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda) and in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The species has already almost become extinct, so strong conservation efforts have been put in place to protect them.

Their habitats are often subjected to human conflict and wars, which leads to a negative effect on the species. They have also been subjected to poaching, deadly diseases contracted from human contact, and negative environmental impacts that destroy their natural habitats. With growing human populations, and high numbers of refugees fleeing civil unrest, the mountain gorillas have also been pushed further away from their natural homes, forcing them to endure the harsh climates present at higher altitudes. As a result, their numbers have remained very small.

One of the main contributing factors to mountain gorilla conservation throughout Virunga is eco-tourism. Tourists have been traveling to the area to view the species in their natural habitats, which has allowed money to flow back into the local economy. As a result, more park rangers have been hired, and additional resources (including veterinarians) have been implemented to ensure that the mountain gorillas get all the protection necessary to successfully boost their populations.

More information about the WWF’s efforts to protect mountain gorillas is here. An in-depth piece on mountain gorilla conservation, feature on Al Jazeera, is here.

 

Virunga

 

virungaA documentary titled Virunga, directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, was released in late 2014 that tells the story of park rangers working in Virunga National Park; every day they risk their lives to protect the mountain gorillas that live there. The focus of the documentary is on the civil conflict within the area, and the impacts of Soco International (a British company) as it began searching for oil within the area.

The film translates this information and explains how the human actions have negative affects on the different animal populations, specifically mountain gorillas, that live in the area. It has an innovative approach as it shows the codependency of both humans and nature: without Virunga National Park, many aspects of human life would be different, or cease to exist. At the same time, the animals within the park need dedicated humans to help ensure their protection against both environmental impacts and poachers.

The official trailer for the film, which is featured on Netflix, is here.

 

 

[1] http://www.wildlifeday.org/content/un-secretary-general-ban-ki-moon%E2%80%99s-message-2015-world-wildlife-day

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Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth is a writer currently based in Kitchener-Waterloo.

One Comment:

  1. Certainly an important issue to be aware of and hopefully greater awareness will lead to greater protections for endangered species.

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