World Wildlife Day: when is it, this year’s theme and how to take part

World Wildlife Day encourages us to get to know our local wildlife and find out how we can all help species under threat. Here is our guide to World Wildlife Day 2020, explaining what it is and how you can take part.

Lion Sitting On Rock During Sunset

World Wildlife Day encourages us to get to know our local wildlife and plants and find out how we can all help look after them and raise awareness of species under threat. Here is our guide to World Wildlife Day 2020, explaining what it is and how you can take part.

What is the theme for World Wildlife Day 2020?

The theme for World Wildlife Day in 2o20 is ‘Sustaining all life on Earth’ and involves looking at all the plant species and wild animals that play important roles in our worlds biodiversity.

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World Wildlife day 2020 poster
World Wildlife day 2020 takes place on 3 March/Credit: Patrick George

Each year the awareness day features a different wildlife theme, in 2019 the theme was on ‘Life below Water: for People and Planet’ which focused on marine conservation and the use of marine species in a sustainable way.

Pine marten.

What does World Wildlife Day aim to achieve?

The theme aims to align with at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

In 2013 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) created World Wildlife Day, which now takes place annually on 3 March. Formally known as the day the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed, to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species. The day is all about raising awareness and celebrating wildlife and plants found worldwide.

world wildlife day 2020 poster
Credit: CWCA

British wildlife to spot

British owl species

Barn owl (Tyto alba) perched on post in field
Barn owl. © Zahoor Salmi/Getty

Silently swooping throughout the land as night draws in, Britain’s owls are elusive, beautiful birds which can be seen in both rural and urban landscapes. Owls are one of Britain’s most spectacular wildlife species to spot.

There are five resident owl species found in Britain, four of which are native (barn, tawny, long-eared and short-eared owl) and one (the little owl) was introduced in the 1800’s. The snowy owl is a rare visitor from further north that has bred here on occasion and the small numbers of eagle owls breeding here are thought to derive from aviary escapes and deliberate releases.

Learn about Britain’s owl species


Eurasian otter

European otter on seaweed covered shoreline rocks
European otter (Lutra lutra) on seaweed covered shoreline rocks, Yell, Shetland Islands, Scotland. / Credit: Getty

Covering 3 continents Europe, Asia and Africa, the Eurasian Otter covers a significant area. Sometimes mistaken for a mink, the otter is considered near threatened with a declining population and is facing many threats, from land development to pollution.

Otters are also part of the mustelid family and there are seven mustelid species found in the UK.

Take a look at our guide to spotting otters and minks


Natterjack toad

Natterjack toad in sandy habitat
Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) in natural sandy habitat. / Credit: Getty

The Natterjack toad population can be found in sand dune, salt marshes and heathlands spread across Europe. The main threats to this species are loss of habitat, they are currently in decline although they remain of least concern on the IUCN red list.

The natterjack toad is one of the UK’s rarest native amphibian species, limited to only around 50 sites.

Learn more about this fascinating species in this expert guide from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust


World wildlife

Pangolin

Long-tailed (black-bellied) pangolin in Cameroon.
Long-tailed (black-bellied) pangolin in Cameroon. © Fabian von Poser/Getty

Pangolins are a group of Asian and African mammals that are covered in hard scales, curl up into a ball to defend themselves, and are sadly the most heavily trafficked animal in the world. They’ve got small heads but long snouts and even longer tongues for slurping up ants from inside ant nests, leading some people to call them scaly anteaters.

Learn more about pangolin


Southern cassowary

Southern Cassowary
The southern cassowary also known as double-wattled cassowary, Australian cassowary or two-wattled cassowary, is a large flightless black bird. It is a ratite and related to emu, ostrich, and the Rhea and Kiwi./ Credit: Getty

Found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and north-eastern Australia, the Southern Cassowary is a very interesting looking bird. There are many conservation actions in place with educational programs, conservation sites identified and monitoring systems in place.

Learn about this prehistoric-looking bird in our expert guide to the Southern Cassowary


Lion

ioness and Cubs Standing on Dead Tree, Botswana
Africa, Botswana, Chobe National Park, Lioness(Panthera leo) and cubs climbing on toppled dead acacia tree in Savuti Marsh. /Credit: Getty

Lions have very complex communication behaviours, producing a variety of calls, but are known for being the king of the roar. One of the ‘Big Cat’ species, the lion is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, although the different subpopulations have different classifications. The Asiatic subspecies is listed as Endangered.

Lions face a number of threats, including habitat loss, a decline in their prey species, trade in bones and other body parts for traditional medicine, and killing in retribution and defence of human life and livestock.

Learn more about lions, including the best places to see in the wild


Gharials

Gavial reflecting in water
Gavial head side view. /Credit: Getty

Gharials are critically endangered reptiles that can be found in wetlands in north India and lowland Nepal. Their strange long snouts are perfect for capturing fish.  Right now their population is increasing with the help of reintroductions into protected areas and monitoring.

Learn more about gharials


Basking sharks

Basking Shark
Basking Shark off the West Coast of Scotland./Credit: Getty

Basking sharks are often found in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean and occasionally reported in the Indian Ocean. The second largest fish is endangered with a decreasing population, there are no longer fisheries targeting the basking shark although some get tangled in the nets as bycatch.

Learn about the family dynamics of basking sharks


Plants to spot

Goat willow

Goat willow catkins
Goat willow, also known as pussy willow, (Salix caprea) pollen producing male catkins growing horizontally from a branch with blue sky and other flowers of the same plant in the background./ Credit: Getty

Make sure you look out for plants as well. This is a goat willow which is native to Europe but can also be found across China, Russia and parts of Japan. With no threats to this plant the population is currently stable, along with help from Harvest and Trade management plans.

How to identify goat willow and other early spring blooms


How to get involved with World Wildlife Day

You can let your friends know that you are supporting World Wildlife day by taking a photo with the action card and uploading it or have a look at the social media kit for inspiration. The official hashtag is #WWD2020

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For more information about the day visit, wildlifeday.org