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| Last Updated:: 03/03/2016

World Wildlife Day 2016







On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.


"The future of wildlife is in our hands" is the theme of UN Wildlife Day 2016. The message is that everyone can, and should, make a difference to protect wildlife. African and Asian elephants will be a main focus of the Day under the theme “The future of elephants is in our hands”. Countries around the world are encouraged to highlight species of wild animals and plants from their own countries, adapting the global theme to suit.


The world’s wildlife, whether charismatic or lesser known, is facing many challenges. The biggest threats to wildlife are habitat loss as well as overgrazing, farming and development. Poaching and trafficking in wildlife driven by transnational organized crime groups pose the most immediate threat to many iconic species.  Elephants, pangolins, rhinoceros, sharks, tigers and precious tree species are among the most critically poached and trafficked species across the world.


This year marks the third anniversary of the event, created by the United Nations in 2013 to raise awareness of the dangers faced by the planet's fauna and flora. Overgrazing, habitat loss and intensive farming are some of the real and tangible challenges that wildlife face today. Thousands of species are considered endangered, according to the IUCN Red list.


Poaching and trafficking have further increased the risks, especially for elephants, the first victims of a lucrative ivory trade. It is estimated that the global elephant population is now below 500,000.


Though World Wildlife Day 2016 will raise awareness on all threatened species, the plight of the African and Asian elephants will be emphasized, with the tag line "The future of elephants is in our hands". Many events around the world will this year be dedicated to the largest land mammal.



Facts about elephants, the focus of World Wildlife Day 2016


Elephants are at the centre of World Wildlife Day 2016. They are amongst the most vulnerable animals on the planet. Between 2010 and 2012, about 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.


There are two main types of elephants: the Asian elephant and the African Elephant. They differ in several ways, the African elephant being much bigger. It can weigh up to eight tons. While only a few Asian elephants have tusks, all African elephants, including females, have tusks.


Both populations have been threatened in the past few years. As of 2011, the world is losing more African elephants than the population can reproduce, threatening their very existence.


However, its Asian cousin is even more in danger of disappearing. The Asian elephant is present in 13 countries across Asia, but only 40,000 animals remain worldwide. That's less than a tenth of the African elephant population.


Elephants are poached for the ivory contained in their tusks, as the demand for ivory remains high, especially in China and the US, the two largest consumer markets for ivory. Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China has tripled, boosting illegal trafficking. One of the ways to save elephants from extinction is by reducing the demand and by educating potential buyers on the issue, the ultimate goal of World Wildlife Day.


2016 Events


A great variety of events, at local and national levels, are taking place this year. They range from exhibitions and contests to national parks visits and conferences. Anyone can see the events near them and add events they would like to organise via an interactive map on the World Day's website.



The UN has launched its very own art competition. The WWD2016 poster design contest is open to citizens in all countries in the hope they will submit artworks that reflect the day's key message: that the future is our hands, and that everyone must act now to avoid future devastating consequences to the planet's wildlife. Organisers started accepting entries on 22 February and will reward the winner with free tickets to South Africa.