March 3rd is World Wildlife Day. While this usually entails a spike of cute and cuddly animal pictures in my social media feeds, this year has taken a more serious tone. The theme is wildlife crime, a subject that is challenging tourism development in Africa and is funding other criminal activity, like terrorism. This is a topic that is close to my heart, having worked with the African Wildlife Foundation and lived in South Africa, where rhino poaching is rampant.
However, the subject of today's celebrations doesn't have to focus on the negative. The latest success stories include reports that there has been a reduction of shark fin sales in China, penalties are becoming stricter and a rhino poaching kingpin has been arrested in Nepal, and Kenya is burning their entire ivory stockpile by the end of the year. China is stepping up, as well, and has banned ivory imports for one year. There are also reports that ivory demand reduction campaigns in the form of public service announcements in targeted areas of Asia are working, per AWF's 2014 State of Ivory Demand in China. Big change has to start somewhere, right?