Like millions of others across the globe, after learning about the threats facing the planet – from our polluted oceans to our endangered wildlife and rainforests, I decided to take action and support our committed young conservationists to address the challenges facing our earth including climate change and environmental crime.

 

There are increasing numbers of studies and reports by scientific experts’ reporting our planet is in grave danger. For some, it may be an easier path to close a blind eye and take solace relying on the government or advocate agencies to save us and generations to come. However, we all can play an active role to significantly slow and hopefully prevent the realization of these dire forecasts. The spectrum of intertwined and interdependent issues is vast, so I will touch upon a few critical issues that include wildlife, pollution, and forests. Through our actions and choices, I personally believe we can collectively turn the tides and make a positive impact in these three areas – will you join me?

Our wildlife needs our help. Rising population and economic growth have placed significant demand for animal by-products throughout the world. According to the World Animal Foundation, Hunting Wildlife to Extinction, “In just the past 40 years, nearly 52 percent of the planet’s wildlife species have been eliminated. The leading cause of these shocking declines is irresponsible and unethical human activities.” According to this same article, “The exponential rise in illegal wildlife trade threatens to undo the decades of hard work by conservationists. Wildlife trade is now run by large international criminal syndicates with deep pockets and tentacles reaching into corrupt governments secretly abetting their activities. There are no available exact figures as to the size of this trade, but there are estimates that it could be as vast as $150 billion annually.”

Approximately, 35,000 – 50,000 African Elephants are poached each year for their ivory. Experts maintain these gentle giants will be extinct in ten years if the trend continues. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Sharks, report that a staggering 100 million sharks are brutally killed each year for their fins – a traditional ingredient used in shark fin soup in some Asian countries.

Over the past decade, poaching of rhinos for their horns has significantly increased. Despite prevalent beliefs that rhino horns can cure a wide variety of ailments, studies have shown it has no medicinal value. Sadly, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Illegal trade map for World Rhino Day reveals new trends in trafficking, reports that there are only 30,000 surviving today.

A chilling medicinal and luxury beauty fad is now sweeping across many areas of the world resulting in the death of millions of donkeys per year. Gelatin, made from boiling donkey skins, can sell up to $388 per kilo. According to an article written by Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Africa correspondent, Why are donkeys facing their ‘biggest ever crisis’?, “1.8m skins are traded every year-according to estimates from the UK-based charity the Donkey Sanctuary – but the demand is as high as 10m.”

We can all count ourselves fortunate to be living on a wondrous and life giving planet. Unfortunately, pollution and deforestation are putting our shared ecological system at risk. Per The Conservation Project International (T-CPI) article, “We are drowning in Plastic and so is our Ocean” “While 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year, it is estimated that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.” All marine life, and subsequently, human life has been and will continue to be, negatively impacted by continued pollution.

Regardless of where we may live on the planet, forests are critical to survival, providing oxygen, freshwater, food, and shelter to wildlife. Deforestation results in approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the deforestation in tropical rainforests is a particular concern. Deforestation reports that just in the past 50 years, 17% of our rainforests have been lost. Across the globe, approximately 52 thousand square miles of forest are lost annually.

We are all stewards of this magnificent, life giving planet and it is our responsibility to ensure its survival for generations to come. I have personally committed to making a difference by actively taking responsibility through volunteer work, funding, spreading awareness and advocacy. As a consumer, I vow to never purchase trinkets, trophies, medicines, beauty products or food items made from wildlife parts. Additionally, as a consumer, I vow to make smart purchasing choices by opting for recyclable products. Finally, and this is an easy one, I vow to never pollute. As we ring in the new 2018 year, I encourage all of us to join in this global cause with the goal of witnessing first hand, through our deliberate actions and choices, a significant drop in wildlife poaching, deforestation, and pollution by the end of this year.

As a first step, I’d like to encourage you to visit and join the efforts of international, national or local community organizations that provide leadership, awareness and action towards ensuring our earth remains life sustaining and beautiful world. Will you join me? The Conservation Project International (T-CPI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Environmental Investigation Agency, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), United for Wildlife.

 

An article by June N. Foster

January 1, 2018

 

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