The U.N. General Assembly has proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day. The date marks the anniversary of the adoption in 1973 of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. World Wildlife Day is intended to be an annual celebration of the world’s wild plants and animals and an opportunity to raise awareness about the threats they face.
CITES, widely recognized as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements, offers protection to more than 30,000 species around the globe. Over the past 40 years, it has been instrumental in helping prevent the extinction of many types of flora and fauna threatened by illegal trade. Historically efforts have focused on land-based species, but in 2013 member governments voted to provide trade protections to seven species of vulnerable sharks and manta rays. This was an unprecedented step to protect the ocean’s apex predators.
For this first World Wildlife Day, The Pew Charitable Trusts celebrates this progress toward the conservation of sharks. This milestone is also an opportunity to highlight some of the other animals around the world that need protection. Whether they are steeply declining populations of Pacific bluefin tuna, shrinking numbers of woodland caribou in Canada’s boreal forest, or the iconic emperor penguins of Antarctica, these animals all deserve conservation measures that ensure their long-term health and survival.
Read the stories below to learn more about Pew’s global work to conserve the wildlife we all cherish.