Today, March 3, is the second annual World Wildlife Day– a day created by the 68th session of United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to honor its adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The day was designed to remind us to celebrate the world’s remarkably diverse forms of flora and fauna, to rejoice in our privilege to interact with nature and wildlife, and to raise awareness of the problems that wildlife is currently facing and the economic, environmental and sociopolitical impact those problems have on the people who populate this planet.
This year, in a special session of the General Assembly, the UN insists that “It’s Time to Get Serious About Wildlife Crime” and will examine the challenges and opportunities for stepping up our international efforts to combat wildlife crime at a global scale.
I remember the first time I saw a Rhino in the wild like it was yesterday (though it was actually 14 years ago). I was on my first morning safari drive in South Africa‘s Londolozi Private Game Reserve. The ground was charred black from a controlled burn, and the newly-grown grass was almost impossibly green. An adult female seemed to savor every bite, looking for all the world like an armored, overgrown cow. Minutes later, we oohed and ahhed as her tiny baby came into view from behind a bush. I have goosebumps now, just thinking about it.
My experience at Londolozi changed my life, influencing everything I do today. Once you’ve seen them in the wild and read reports on how they’re being slaughtered on a daily basis, you can’t help wanting to save rhinos, elephants and other endangered wildlife. Which is why our company, Green Travel Media, has banded together with the blogger-driven Travelers Building Change non-profit to launch the #JustOneRhino fundraiser, which begins today and runs through March 1.
#JustOneRhino will benefit the Rhinos Without Borders project, which is spearheaded by National Geographic Explorers In Residence, acclaimed wildlife photographers/filmmakers, and wildlife conservation advocates Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The Jouberts are working to save Rhinos, translocating 100 of them from South Africa to Botswana in 2015 to protect them from the tragic rise in poaching. It’s an extremely expensive project, with costs estimated to range around the $5 million mark.
Working together with 125 of the world’s top travel bloggers, we’re trying to help Rhinos Without Borders raise $45,000– the cost of moving #JustOneRhino. But we can’t do it without your help! Fortunately, we’ve got 20+ Sponsors offering up more than $30,000 worth of AMAZING prizes for those who Donate via Travelers Building Change. A $20 donation will get you 10 entries, $30 will get you 20, $50 will get you 30, and so on. And the prizes are nothing to sneeze at, including tours/resort stays in 11 countries spanning 5 continents!
Read on for details about why you should donate to this exceptional charitable cause (including those great prizes), and then visit the Travelers Building Change site to make your secure donation…
Let’s face it, the world can be an ugly place. From flame wars on social media to heartbreaking stories on the nightly news, humanity’s awfulness can occasionally be overwhelming. Every once in a while we like to take breaks from stories about poaching, habitat loss, and the effects of global warming to marvel at the incredible array of beauty that still exists on this planet we call home. And so it is that we present to you 26 Wonderfully Weird Animals (from A to Z)– many of which are endangered– that we believe make this world a more interesting place…
Africa is in serious trouble. And no, we’re not just talking about ebola (although the outbreak certainly isn’t helping matters), but poaching.
The Asian hunger for wild animal parts purported to work miracles ranging from increasing virility to curing cancer has driven poaching and profits from illegal trafficking to record-shattering levels. Africa is losing an average of 5 Lions per day, 5 Elephants per hour, and a Rhino (whose horn is currently valued at around $65,000 per kg) every 7 hours in South Africa alone. The devastating decline of these key species, which could eliminate the continent’s entire wild population by 2050, threatens both the environment and the economy of myriad African nations.
Ecotourism is an enormous industry in east and south Africa, generating approximately $80 billion in annual revenue. Much of this money comes from wildlife safaris to search for “the Big 5″– Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos and Buffalo. If these species disappear, it will likely set off a chain reaction in which tourism revenue declines, poverty rises and poaching for bush meat increases… a vicious circle that spells bad news for wildlife and those who treasure it. With growing concerns of ebola fears hurting African tourism to places like Kenya and South Africa, the importance of addressing the poaching problem head-on becomes even more vital.
Award-winning filmmakers (and National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence) Dereck and Beverly Joubert are among Africa’s most outspoken wildlife conservation advocates. Through their Big Cat Initiative, the Botswana-based couple took the front lines on the battle to protect Africa’s beloved felines by raising awareness and implementing change to the dire situation facing Lions and Leopards. The project has since funded 60 projects in 23 countries.
Now, through their Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation arms, the Jouberts have launched Rhinos Without Borders, an attempt to save endangered Rhinos by translocating 100 of them from South Africa to Botswana in order to protect them from the tragic rise in poaching. To do this, they’ll need to raise nearly $5 million, as the costs to capture, transport, quarantine and release these animals will average about $45,000 per Rhino.
Our company Green Travel Media will be partnering with the new Travelers Building Change non-profit and 50-100 travel bloggers to help raise funds for Rhinos Without Borders, with the goal of raising enough money to save #JustOneRhino. We recently spoke to Dereck Joubert at great length about his ambitious undertaking, discussing why it’s crucial to focus on Rhinos now, why Botswana is safer from poachers than South Africa, and controversial Rhino conservation methods ranging from poisoning their horns to cutting them off entirely.
SPECIES: North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
CURRENT RANGE: Along the east coast of North America, from Canada down to Georgia and Florida
CURRENT THREATS: Ship strikes, entanglement in commercial fishing lines
CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THEM: With just 400-450 left, chances of spotting them are slim, but your best bet is off the Georgia/Florida coast in winter.