Protecting Wildlife for a Healthy Planet

Thanks to your generous support, World Wildlife Fund is advancing wildlife conservation on a global scale.

As you will read in this report, our initiatives are decreasing consumer demand for ivory through targeted campaigns; empowering conservation enthusiasts to detect and report illegal wildlife products online; and expanding habitat in the Northern Great Plains for bison to roam. Through our work with partners, communities, and field scientists, we are protecting tigers, rhinos, elephants, and countless other species in critical habitats.

We thank you for making this progress possible and for helping to create a brighter future for wildlife and people the world over.

Eliminating High-Risk Wildlife Markets

COVID-19, a new disease linked to a novel coronavirus, has caused a worldwide health pandemic. Connections to the wildlife trade as the source of the virus has spotlighted the devastating impacts this trade can have on human health and economies. The origin of the outbreak is believed to have been in a “wet market” in Wuhan, China, that sold live and dead wildlife and domestic animals along with other foods for human consumption. The World Health Organization has determined that COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it originated from an animal.

Recognizing the significant threat posed by illegal, unregulated, and high-risk wildlife markets, the Government of China has taken emergency measures to close their wildlife markets and ban the consumption of wildlife for food. But the threat of viral transmission and pandemic spread is not just an issue for China. Many countries have wildlife markets that are high-risk, particularly in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. It will take a concerted global effort to mitigate these risks. Reducing threats and the potential for pandemic sources from wildlife will require shutting down high-risk markets, strengthening law enforcement efforts, reducing consumer demand for key wildlife products while recognizing the legitimate protein needs of the rural poor that are often met by the harvest of wild animals.

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TIGERS

India is home to around 70 percent of the world’s tigers. According to India’s latest national tiger survey, there are now an estimated 2,967 tigers in India, up from 2,226 in 2015. The survey covered 147,259 square miles of forested habitat at 33 priority sites in 20 tiger-occupied states throughout India. This increase brings us one step closer to realizing our goal of doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022—an effort known as TX2. In collaboration with the 13 tiger-range countries and partners, WWF’s global tiger team has been driving TX2 forward through habitat restoration, landscape protection, and community empowerment.

ELEPHANTS

In Africa, we are protecting elephants through our support of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). Spanning Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, KAZA contains approximately 40% of Africa’s elephant population and has emerged as one of the most important remaining strongholds for elephants in the world. Elephants and other wildlife depend on corridors to move freely across KAZA. Key corridors, called wildlife dispersal areas, spur healthy species population growth and distribute wildlife-dependent economic benefits to people throughout the region. Satellite tracking of a collared bull elephant confirmed new wildlife corridors between the Silowana Complex in Namibia and Kafue National Park in Zambia. The bull traveled over 1,000 km from northwest Botswana to Zambia and back. If these corridors receive formal recognition, they will be protected from incompatible forms of land-use and further contribute to thriving elephant populations.

In Asia, more than 200 rangers are now protecting elephants in previously unprotected Myanmar wilderness areas, thanks to the Voices for Momos campaign established in November 2017 to bring awareness to the plight of elephants in Myanmar. The campaign, now called Voices for Wildlife, has enabled significant, in-situ protections for elephants through increased ranger capacity, 18 camps in poaching hotspots, and important training workshops.

RHINOS

Once numbering more than 500,000, as few as 29,000 rhinos now roam Africa and Asia. Yet, with your help, rhino conservation has gained traction and populations are on the rebound. WWF supports the recovery of black, greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos by securing and protecting priority habitat and establishing new populations through translocations. Northwest Namibia recently celebrated more than 18 months of zero black rhino poaching. Namibia is home to a robust communal conservancy system, which links conservation to community growth through sustainable use of natural resources. Many conservancy members played a significant role in preventing poaching by thwarting would-be poachers.

BISON

500 years ago, tens of millions of plains bison inhabited North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico, with the Great Plains as their center of abundance. Bison were once the dominant grazer on the Great Plains, deeply impacting the pattern and structure of grasses and vegetation. 

We recently celebrated the official opening of a new 22,553-acre bison habitat in Badlands National Park. This brings the total area of bison habitat within the park to 80,193 acres, enough to sustain 1,000 animals. After Yellowstone, the Badlands National Park herd is now the National Park System’s second largest bison herd. WWF played an integral role in this habitat expansion, beginning with a critical land exchange that removed a private inholding and created a corridor between the new habitat and
the existing range.