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Showing off Your Wild Side

People the world over will be doing just that today during celebrations to mark the inaugural World Wildlife Day.

The day was declared by the last triennial Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which was held in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2013. The date marks the signing of CITES in Washington D.C. in 1973 following the World Wildlife Conference.

A message released by the CITES Secretary General, Mr. John E. Scanlon, stated that today was an opportunity to celebrate the plants and animals we share our planet with while working to end the threats they face from illegal trade, which is worth billions of dollars each year.

“This illegal trade is now threatening the survival of some of our most charismatic species, as well as some plants and animals you may never have heard of,” said Mr Scanlon.

Planned celebrations to mark today range from airport displays in New Zealand, a rally and seminar in Bangladesh, a Conference on Combating Wildlife Crime in Tokyo, and a photographic Wild and Precious Exhibition in Geneva.

Six Pacific Island countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, are Contracting Parties to CITES. Fiji became the 143rd Contracting Party when it acceded to CITES in 1997.

CITES lists species in three appendices according to degrees of protection required. Appendix I lists species threatened with extinction, and trade in these is only permitted in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II lists species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but whose trade is controlled to ensure their survival. Appendix III lists species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Contracting Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

The decision to declare 3 March World Wildlife Day was endorsed through resolution A/RES/68/205 of the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2013 and reiterated at the recent London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

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