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.
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.
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.
British wildlife to spot
British owl species
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 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
For more information about the day visit, wildlifeday.org