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Protecting Wildlife for a Healthy Planet

Last year we marked critical victories for some of Earth’s most iconic and beloved species from the icy Arctic’s polar bear to East Africa’s savannah elephants. Each of these successes is because of you. Together, we are defending and protecting wildlife and making certain each species survives long into the future. Thank you.


In December, China committed to closing its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017. In addition to coordinating public engagement campaigns to make ivory socially unacceptable, WWF and TRAFFIC released a report in August 2016 with recommendations for a China ban and worked both publicly and behind the scenes to push for this policy change. China and the US are two of the world’s biggest consumer markets for wildlife products. The historic decision by both countries to phase out commercial elephant ivory trade is a monumental step that few would have predicted a year ago.

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For the first time in 100 years, the number of wild tigers is on the rise! According to the most recent data, around 3,890 tigers now exist in the wild—up from an estimated 3,200 in 2010. National surveys have shown that tiger numbers have increased in India, Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan. We still have a long way to go, but this reversal in the declining trend of the last century gives us hope that the tiger will continue to maintain its rightful place as the king of the Asian jungles.

Over the last century, rhinos have been among the most hunted animals on the planet. Without the dedicated efforts of the global conservation community, many rhino species would be long gone. Through your support, WWF works to reduce demand for and consumption of rhino horn in key consuming countries, protects rhinos in key habitats, and uses translocation to expand rhino populations and increase genetic diversity. The resurgence of the greater one-horned rhino is a success story that exemplifies the impact of your support. Once found across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, the greater one-horned rhino was pushed very close to extinction in the early 20th century. By 1975, only 600 individuals survived in the wild. By 2015, decades of rigorous conservation efforts, including the work of WWF, saw the population grow to 3,555 in the Terai Arc Landscape of India and Nepal, and the grasslands of Assam and north Bengal in northeast India.

Recently, in a welcome piece of news for the worlds’ threatened wildlife, the giant panda was downgraded from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable” on the global list of species at risk of extinction. Giant panda populations in the wild have risen steadily by 17 percent in the decade up to 2014 when a nationwide census found 1,850 giant pandas in the wild in China, which is an increase from the last census of 1,600 animals in 2003. For decades, WWF has been working with the Chinese government to save giant pandas and their habitat, including helping to establish an integrated network of giant panda reserves and wildlife corridors.

The loss of sea ice habitat from climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of polar bears. With your support, WWF advocates for governments to recognize and mitigate the effects of climate change and works to protect polar bears. This includes ensuring ratification of the climate agreement passed in Paris in December 2015, monitoring polar bear populations, mitigating conflict between polar bears and people, and reducing the impacts of industrial development in the Arctic. Last year, WWF supported the Native Village of Wales—a remote Alaskan village on the Bering Strait—as they officially established a Polar Bear Patrol to protect wildlife and residents in the face of a changing climate.