01 Mar 2019 Story Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Wild for Life campaign to protect nine new species

Wild for Life is UN Environment’s campaign against illegal trade in wildlife. International and national laws protect many species because their populations are at risk. If animals, plants or their parts are taken from the wild or killed, then they are part of the illegal trade.

This trade is not only pushing species to the brink of extinction, it also poses environmental, economic, development and security risks.

For large animals, called megafauna, harvesting for meat or body parts is often the largest individual threat they face. Therefore, it is a priority conservation strategy to minimize the direct killing of these animals.

The manta ray is among threatened species part of the Wild for Life campaign to protect marine life on World Wildlife Day. Photo by UN Environment

A wide range of animals under threat

This year, the theme of World Wildlife Day on 3 March, is: “Life below water: for people and planet", aligned with goal 14 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

On this occasion, Wild for Life is collaborating with the UN Environment’s campaign against plastic pollution in our oceans, Clean Seas, to launch a series of nine new marine species dependent on our oceans.

These species are the most vulnerable to the illegal trade, from sun bears and snow leopards to sawfish and sea turtles. By pairing up the species with celebrities, the campaign expects to have impressive reach.

They are the mako shark, the penguin, the sea horse, the manta ray, the elkhorn and staghorn coral, the dugong, the polar bear, the sperm whale, and the thresher shark. The celebrities paired with the species have a wide variety of backgrounds: from National Geographic’s top wildlife photographers to singers and actors.

Sperm whales are threatened species and part of the Wild for Life campaign. Photo by Amanda Cotton

Christina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen are co-founders of SeaLegacy, an organization centred around visual storytelling to protect our oceans. They organize expeditions for the world’s best photographers and filmmakers to capture the beauty of our oceans and the threats they face. Then, they campaign to trigger lasting and sustainable change using stunning visuals. With six million followers, they are poised to have a lasting impact.

In the ocean

The celebrities under thirty participating in the campaign are Alice Eve, Raisa Andriana, and Amanda Cerny. Alice is an actress known for her role in Star Trek; Raisa is an Indonesian singer, and Amanda is an influencer on social media. All of them have a huge number of followers, spreading awareness about the campaign and illegal wildlife trade.  

Sea horses up close and personal. Photo by Yen-Yi-Lee

The campaign is also partnering with Ben Fogle and Lewis Pugh, who have pushed their physical limits in some of the remotest parts of the world to raise awareness about a vast variety of environmental issues.

Fogle is a British broadcaster and adventurer, and UN Environment’s “Patron of the Wilderness”. His work has taken him to some of the most inaccessible places on earth: from the South Pole to the Empty Quarter desert to the Amazon rainforest and the top of Mount Everest.

Pugh is an ocean advocate and the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. In 2007, he undertook the first swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice, and in 2013, was appointed as Patron of the Oceans by UN Environment. Visit the Wild for Life and Clean Seas campaigns to find out more.   

If you’re 18-30 and want to make a difference for the planet, why not apply to be a Young Champion of the Earth? The prize is powered by Covestro. Applications close on March 31st.