June 5th is a marque moment on every environmental calendar where people around the world celebrate World Environment Day by taking part in environmental actions and become agents of change for positive impacts on the planet.
World Environment Day which is spearheaded by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) is organized around a theme that reflects environmental concerns. This year’s theme is on the illegal trade in wildlife, which is eroding the Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and driving species to the brink of extinction. The theme chosen by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) for this year’s World Environment Day celebration is “GO WILD FOR LIFE.”
This year’s theme, “Go Wild for Life,” encourages us to celebrate all those species under threat and to take action of our own to help safeguard them for future generations. This can be about animals or plants that are threatened within your local area as well as at the national or global level. Whoever you are, and wherever you live, show zero-tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife and make a difference.
Huge efforts to counter the illicit trade including stronger policies, awareness campaigns and investments in community conservation and law enforcement have scored some great successes. However, many species remain at risk and it will take a dedicated and sustained effort by each and every one of us to turn the tide.
What can we do? More people need to understand the damage this illicit activity is doing to our environment, livelihoods, communities and security. We must change our habits and behaviour so that the demand for illegal wildlife products falls. Additionally, more awareness and action pushes governments and international bodies to introduce and enforce tougher laws and combat those still willing to break them. We need to eliminate the use of wildlife byproducts such as the turtle shell for jewelry, elephant tusks for ivory and rhinoceros horns for bush medicine.
The Department of Environment urges everyone to make it their mission to help end the illegal trade in wildlife and do what we can to bring back species from the brink and in order to preserve our precious planet for this and future generations.
This year’s World Environment Day celebrations will be hosted by Angola, a country seeking to restore its elephant herds, conserve Africa’s biodiversity and safeguard the environment as it continues to rebuild after more than a quarter century of civil war.