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Today is Wildlife Conservation Day! Wild animals all over the world are facing threats from climate change, urban development, plastic/trash, and more. Giraffes all over the world are facing a population decline and Masai giraffes, a subspecies in eastern Africa, are now considered endangered. Elephants and rhinos are both threatened by ivory poaching, with over 1,000 rhinos killed by poachers in 2017. African elephant poaching may be on the decline but they are still considered vulnerable.

Elephants, rhinos, and giraffes aren’t the only animal species that are facing population declines and possible extinction. Giant pandas, tigers, Tapanuli orangutans, and mountain gorillas are some other large species currently struggling. Here in the Pacific Northwest, Southern Resident Killer Whales have been facing issues like malnutrition and a decline in birth rates/survival; recent conservation efforts have brought gray wolves back to parts of Washington but these predators keep bumping up against farmers and other humans. Fishers, a medium-sized carnivore in the weasel family, have been reintroduced to parts of Washington after being over-trapped to extinction within the state. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a recent list of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species in the state, which includes the animals above and others like the Western Pond Turtle, the sea otter, and the gray whale.

It can be really easy to get caught up in all the bleak and depressing news of declining animal populations and climate change related issues. But, in my opinion, there is still hope and many ways to get involved. In October 2019, over a thousand saplings were planted by volunteers in a pocket estuary on March Point in Skagit County. Once grown, these trees will help the health of the pocket estuary and will help animals like salmon. Millions of young folks have repeatedly hit the streets to bring attention to the climate crisis. Despite the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement in 2017, there are several countries around the world doing what they can to decrease carbon emissions and fight against climate change.

And there are many conservation and reintroduction efforts that are doing well around the world! The kākā (a type of parrot) population is slowly growing on New Zealand’s south island, with the population growing from 14 birds to an estimated 300-400. There’s also hope for the near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises, with their population slowly growing!

There are many ways to support wildlife conservation and environmental justice around the world. Use less plastic (especially single-use plastic like water bottles!); recycle/upcycle clothing so there are less textile waste in landfills; eat less meat; support community gardens and local farms; use reusable tote bags for grocery shopping and coffee mugs for your coffee, like this Hydroflask and these cute grocery bags. You can also help with river and park clean-ups in your area. All of these things can help climate change and protect different habitats/ecosystems. That, in turn, helps endangered or sensitive species!

Wildlife conservation is an important issue that is directly related to climate change and environmental justice. By fighting for wildlife around the world (and for a balance between wildlife and humans), we can help make the world a better place.