8 Apr 2020

A look back at BirdLife Africa's World Wildlife Day celebrations 2020

On 3 March every year, people across the world gather to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild flora and fauna. From films and exhibitions to nature walks and face paining, here's a look back at the diverse ways the BirdLife Partnership marked the day across Africa.

Participants take part in WWD celebrations in Uganda, organized by Nature Uganda  © Jonathan Onongo
World Wildlife Day celebrations with marching band, organized by Nature Uganda © Jonathan Onongo
By Lewis Kihumba

World Wildlife Day is celebrated in March every year to raise awareness of the world’s wild flora and fauna. The day also marks the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement regulating trade in wild animals and plants. This year’s World Wildlife Day celebrations were on the theme 'Sustaining all Life on Earth', focusing on the critical role biodiversity plays in sustaining people’s livelihoods globally.

Recent reports indicate that we are in danger of losing one million species of plants and animals. Consequently, emphasis is increasingly being placed on the urgent need for measures to ensure the sustainable use and conservation of wild animals and plants.

In line with tradition, BirdLife partners marked the day with a varied range of events. In Mauritus, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF, BirdLife Partner) lined up activities over two days, from 29 February to 1 March. On the first day, visitors learned about the valuable conservation work that MWF has been undertaking in Mauritius, Rodrigues and outer islets since the 1970s. Fun activities included like face painting, exhibitions and colouring in pictures of endemic species.

 A MWF Exhibition stand during World Wildlife Day celebrations © MWF

Additionally, MWF screened a series of conservaiton films including an adaptation of Diane Gueho’s film entitled Mauritius Fruit bats under threat and award-winning film Paradise Island: Back from the brink, which focusses on the impact of human settlements on Mauritian endemic species. In addition to this, MWF carried out further awareness-raising activities with staff of the Mauritius Commercial Bank on 6 March.

“Highlighting the important role played by wildlife in our environment is important. As part of MWF’s efforts, we are carrying out various programmes to safeguard endangered animals and plants. World Wildlife Day provides an opportunity to showcase and celebrate our conservation achievements”, said Jean Hugues, Fundraising and Communications Manager at MWF.

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In Nigeria, the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF, BirdLife partner) celebrated World Wildlife Day on 3 March in Owerri, Imo state. The celebrations brought together over 2,500 participants including government officials, local organizations, media outlets and the public. The event began with a rally in Imo, followed by speeches and presentations. “Sensitization activities about the critical role of wild animals and plants in the ecosystem is important. World Wildlife Day provides a chance to raise awareness about wild animals and plants, many of which are in danger of extinction”, noted Oladapo Soneye, Head of Communications at NCF.

Participants take part in World Wildlife Day celebrations organized by NCF © NCF

Nature Uganda (BirdLife partner), in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, local governments, local communities and schools, celebrated World Wildlife Day with special focus on the Grey-crowned Crane, Uganda’s national bird - which is facing extinction. The celebrations included a conservation conference in Kampala, a crane festival in Kabale Town organized by Nature Uganda and celebrations in Kisoro Town. A hallmark of the festival was the launch of the National Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Grey-crowned Crane by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Ssubi Godfrey Kiwanda. In Kisoro Town, the celebrations culminated in an award ceremony where the National Coordinator of Nature Uganda’s Crane Conservation Programme, Jimmy Muheebwa, and Mr. Cadre Busabiri, a Community Cranes Custodian, received the National Species Recovery Awards for their contribution to the conservation of the Grey-crowned Crane.

BirdWatch Zambia (BirdLife partner) celebrated World Wildlife Day in collaboration with Women for Conservation, a network that brings together women working in wildlife conservation in Zambia. The event included a nature walk in Forest Reserve 27 in Lusaka, and performances by BirdWatch Zambia conservation ambassador, Terresa N’gambi, on the need to conserve nature.

“Birdwatch Zambia has been at the forefront of spearheading conservation efforts in Zambia. One of the ways to raise awareness about the need for conservation is through the arts .This will ensure that the conservation message is taken up, especially among the youth”, explained Christelle Makonga of BirdWatch Zambia.

A nature walk, as part of the celebrations in Zambia © BirdWatch Zambia