March 3: World Wildlife Day
The World Wildlife Day is observed every year on 3rd March to celebrate and raise awareness about the world’s wild fauna and flora. It is celebrated to mark the signing of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on this day in 1973.
Significance of Day
- It aims to create awareness and encourages people across the globe to protect endangered species.
- It also calls for taking up urgent steps to fight wildlife crime which has wide-ranging environmental, economic and social impacts.
The theme for this year is ‘Big Cats: Predators under Threat’. Big cats are among most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. These predators are facing many and varied threats, mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. The theme aims to raise awareness about plight of big cats and galvanize support for many global and national actions that underway to save these iconic species. It also expands definition of big cats being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar (4 largest wild cats that can roar) but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc.
The World Wildlife Day was designated by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 68th session on 20 December 2013. On this day in 1973, CITES was adopted.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
CITES is international agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species. Its aim is to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN. It entered into force in July 1975.
It is administered through United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It’s secretariat is located in Geneva (Switzerland). CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. In addition CITES also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs.