Wednesday 16 October 2019

World Wildlife Day aims to raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants

Jim Hurley - Nature Trail

Sunday is World Wildlife Day. Each year, March 3 celebrates and raises awareness of the world's wild animals and plants.

World Wildlife Day is a United Nations initiative that coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement between governments to regulate global trade in wild animals and plants to ensure that their survival does not become threatened by such trade.

Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, health care, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. With 183 contracting parties, 182 countries and the European Union, CITES is one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of trade.

CITES regulates international trade in over 36,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, to ensure their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment.

World Wildlife Day is celebrated under a different theme each year. This year the theme is 'Life below water: for people and planet'.

Oceans regulate our climate, produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide nourishment for 3+ billion people, and absorb 30% of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and 90% of the heat from climate change. To ensure that oceans and marine species are preserved and protected, nature-based solutions that bring together public, private and civil society partners need to be replicated and scaled-up.

Ireland ratified CITES in January 2002 and the convention entered into force here on 8 April 2002. Globally, over 36,000 plant and animal species are accorded varying degrees of protection by the CITES convention. Regulations implementing CITES in the European Union list the species relevant to this part of the world and the EU experience of illegal trading in endangered wildlife.

Irish laws follow the EU Regulations and lay out the terms and conditions for possession, use and trade in protected species that are both native to Ireland and non-native species listed under CITES.

Trade in marine species such as exotic seahorses, colourful corals and tropical seashells is monitored by customs officials and wildlife officers to ensure that the survival of these beautiful and often endangered life forms does not become threatened by tourists unwittingly buying them as souvenirs while on their holidays abroad and bringing them home.

Wildlife is best enjoyed and left in the wild where it belongs.