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Celebrating World Wildlife Day

Every year on March 3, the world comes together to celebrate World Wildlife Day, an occasion dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of wildlife and the need for its conservation. This day serves as a reminder of the incredible diversity of life on our planet and the urgent need to protect it for future generations.


World Wildlife Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the threats facing many species around the globe. The date March 3 was chosen to coincide with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973, a pivotal agreement to regulate the international trade of endangered species and ensure their survival in the wild. It aims to prevent over-exploitation of species by controlling their trade and protecting them from unsustainable harvesting and trafficking. 



The conservation efforts facilitated by CITES and World Wildlife Day have far-reaching effects, even in regions as seemingly isolated as Patagonia, AZ. Protecting wildlife and plants through international agreements like CITES helps maintain the delicate balance of ecosystems worldwide by protecting vulnerable species. The Sky Islands, known for their unique and isolated biodiversity, rich desert landscapes, and vital riparian areas, benefit from these global conservation efforts.


Jaguars are some of the species that benefit from these global conservation efforts.
Jaguars are some of the species that benefit from these global conservation efforts.

Some species that benefit from these international efforts include the famous jaguar, which has been apparating more throughout the borderlands mountain ranges in the last year than ever before. They were extirpated from the United States in the mid-20th century because of habitat loss, hunting, and poaching. Fur-bearing animals like beavers have been universally overhunted for their pelts, and they have been largely displaced from the borderlands region, where they played important roles in maintaining water quality and availability in waterways like the San Pedro River.


Beavers are vital partners in the journey to restoring watersheds.
Beavers are vital partners in the journey to restoring watersheds.

Flora is also at risk, including cacti like the saguaro, which can be poached and sold internationally for hundreds of dollars. However, the protections initiated by CITES over 50 years ago have raised awareness about conservation. They are giving wildlife populations, like jaguars and beavers, a chance to return to their historical range and maintain the abundance of endemic species like the sentient saguaro.


The saguaro cactus, an icon of the American West.
The saguaro cactus, an icon of the American West.

As we have recently celebrated World Wildlife Day, let us reflect on the importance of preserving the incredible diversity of life on our planet. High diversity reflects the strength and resilience of the landscape, as each different species plays a different part in maintaining the web of life. It is also essential to acknowledge that the modern environmental movement has been going on for over 50 years.


Sometimes, it feels like we are still trying to scream at everyone to wake up and realize we are losing the beautiful landscapes that sustain us. So, it is a good reminder that people have been calling for generations - and we are gaining even more momentum as research, awareness, and advocacy continue to expand.



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