Wildlife Conservation

Conserve threatened wildlife and wild places to sustain life on Earth


A young gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Saving nature is at the very heart of what we do as WWF. For 60 years, we have made it our mission to find solutions that save the marvelous array of life on our planet by applying the best science available and working closely with local communities.

But our work is far from done. Humans are behind the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than nature intended. We’ve seen an average decline of 69% in species populations since 1970, according to WWF's Living Planet Report 2022.

And the impacts will reach far beyond the potential cultural loss of iconic species like tigers, rhinos, and whales.

The good news is we’ve also seen what’s working. WWF has been part of successful wildlife recovery stories ranging from southern Africa’s black rhino to black bucks in the Himalayas. And this, in turn, is helping to protect rich and varied ecosystems while ensuring people continue to benefit from nature.

This much is clear: we cannot afford to fail in our mission to save a living planet.

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How canopy bridges help wildlife deep inside the Amazon

These bridges help the Amazon’s tree-living species, such as porcupines, sloths, and monkeys, whose territories have become fragmented by human infrastructure.

Vania Tejeda on ropes, scaling a tree in the Amazon rainforst to inspect a camera trap and canopy bridge

Why It Matters

  • Saving a Planet of Life

    We protect wildlife for many reasons. It is a source of inspiration. It nurtures a sense of wonder. It is integral to the balance of nature. In our work, WWF focuses on saving populations of the most ecologically, economically and culturally important species in the wild. Ultimately, by protecting species, we save this beautiful, vulnerable and utterly irreplaceable planet we call home.

  • Improving Human Lives

    By protecting species, we also protect the essential goods and services that make our lives possible and contribute enormously to human health and well-being — breathable air, clean water, food, fibers, building materials, medicines, energy, fertile soils, climate regulation, transport, and recreational and spiritual values.

  • Species Recovery

    The cuddly black-and-white giant panda is a conservation icon and not only because it is WWF’s widely recognized logo. They are reigning celebrities in the handful of zoos around the world where people flock to see them. Numbering around 1,600 in the wild, China is the only country where giant pandas are found. WWF has played an important role in their recovery for over 30 years, ever since we became the first private conservation group to receive an official invitation from the Chinese government in 1978.

  • Inspiration

    A critically endangered population of the Mekong River’s Irrawaddy dolphins became the face of a global campaign to stop a major dam that would also impact local communities and livelihoods. The connection to the “smiling face of the Mekong” influenced more than a quarter of a million people around the world to join WWF in saying no to the Don Sahong dam. This species continues to inspire people to reduce pollution of freshwater sources, improve fishing practices and encourage only sustainable hydropower development.

  • Helping Populations Thrive

    It speaks to the power of the mighty predator that the first-ever global summit on a single species brought together world leaders to commit to a single purpose—doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022. WWF is playing a pivotal role in realizing this ambitious goal, which will ensure the king of the jungle will once again thrive across its range in 13 countries to benefit other wildlife and wild spaces, secure freshwater sources and a future for people too.

What WWF Is Doing

WWF researcher and Tubbataha ranger Choy Calagui and other rangers measure a green turtle

Conserving wildlife is at heart of our mission. We focus on protecting populations of some of the world’s most ecologically, economically, and culturally important species—the survival of which are threatened by poaching, illegal trade and habitat loss.

We use the best science available to link on-the-ground work with high-level policy action to create lasting solutions that benefit wild animals as well as the people that live alongside them.

Stop Wildlife Crime

WWF uses our expertise in policy, wildlife trade, advocacy, and communications in an effort to stop wildlife crime in the US and around the world. At home, we ensure the US enacts tight ivory commerce restrictions. Partnerships with technology companies help us develop innovative ways to combat wildlife crime using everything from drones to infrared cameras that can detect poachers in the dead of night. To combat the trade in illegal wildlife products through web-based platforms, WWF has teamed up with e-commerce and social media companies to adopt a standardized wildlife policy framework for online trade.

Double the Number of Tigers

WWF aims to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022 (TX2). We’re working with world leaders to take action, focusing conservation efforts in key sites, raising funds to permanently protect landscapes, and supporting community-based conservation. Saving tigers is about more than restoring a single species. As a large predator, tigers play an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Every time we protect a tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest—forests that sustain wildlife and local communities and supply people around the world with clean air, water, food, and products.

Empower People to Protect Wildlife

Over the last few decades, conservationists have come to understand just how central community involvement is to wildlife conservation success—and how important it is for communities to actively steward the natural resources around them to improve economic and social well-being. WWF’s community-based conservation work today reflects this fundamental reality. We work across a variety of communities and customize our work based on the specific needs and interests of a given place, taking into consideration each region’s particular set of conservation assets and challenges.

Closing Asia's Ivory Markets

Illegal killing of elephants for ivory decimates global populations. Estimates indicate that each year poachers slaughter close to 20,000 elephants, mostly for their tusks. Fueling this rampant poaching is a steady consumer demand for ivory. Overall, we see demand increasing in East Asian and Southeast Asian markets, with the greatest demand in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. WWF is working to shut down the illegal markets in Thailand, and helped end the legal ivory trade in China. By tackling these markets now as part of a pan-Asian approach, WWF aims to leverage China’s recent actions to ban the ivory trade to prevent further displacement of the current China ivory trade to nearby countries.


  • Environmental DNA

    By taking samples of soil, water, snow, or even air, we can access the environmental DNA (or eDNA) that animals naturally shed—like hair, skin, and feces—as they move through their environment. eDNA can then be used to detect endangered species, study the impacts of climate change, alert us to invisible threats such as pathogens, and assess the overall health of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

  • The Legacy of the USAID ROUTES Partnership

    For over six years, the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership brought together government agencies, law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and transport sector companies to disrupt wildlife trafficking through legal transportation supply chains in the aviation industry.

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