IFAW Joins U.S. State Department on Wildlife Conservation Day

Dec 03, 2012, 11:05 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Promoting the conservation and protection of endangered species, the U.S. State Department has declared December 4, Wildlife Conservation Day and calls on individuals around the globe to join the fight by signing its Wildlife Pledge to help save imperiled wild animals. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org), which works in all corners of the world to stop the illicit and brutal trade in wildlife, is proud to support the U.S. State Department in this urgently needed initiative.

Wildlife Conservation Day seeks to raise awareness about the harmful security, economic and environmental effects of wildlife poaching and trafficking; discourage consumer demand for products made from endangered species; and demonstrates efforts by citizens, activists, private corporations and governments to bring an end to the illicit wildlife trade.

In November, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the initiative, "(We are)spearheading a global outreach campaign which we will launch December 4th on Wildlife Conservation Day. Our embassies will use every tool at their disposal to raise awareness about this issue, from honoring local activists, to spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter. We want to make buying goods, products from trafficked wildlife, endangered species unacceptable, socially unacceptable. We want friends to tell friends they don't want friends who ingest, display, or otherwise use products that come from endangered species anywhere in the world."

"The problem of wildlife trafficking is bigger than any one NGO, government or institution so it is great to see the U.S. State Department leading an initiative that brings together so many like-minded actors to maximize the benefit for wildlife that is in undeniable crisis," said IFAW Executive Vice President Azzedine Downes. "The world's wildlife is being lost at a stunning rate. Last year it is estimated over 25,000 elephants were killed for their ivory, a mere 3,000 tigers still survive in the wild, while prices for polar bear skins have doubled and the number of skins for sale at auction have tripled in the last five years."

"Once concerned citizens around the world have signed the pledge they can take a number of other steps to make a difference for animals," said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW's Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness Program. "The easiest thing to do is not buy any wildlife souvenirs from this list. Focus instead on handicraft souvenirs that promote artisan professions without damaging wildlife."

To ensure consumers aren't unknowingly participating in the illicit trade in wildlife, IFAW urges people to think twice before purchasing the following items:

1) Ivory

2) Products made of exotic skins: alligator, crocodile, lizard or snake such as belts, boots, handbags, wallets, etc...

3) Elephant hair items

4) Exotic birds

5) Live reptiles

6) Coral and Queen Conch shells

7) Exotic wood – The loss of habitat in old growth forests is devastating for wildlife. In general if a wood is relatively light it is from a fast growing tree and is likely okay. If it feels heavy and dense it is from a slow-growing tree which needs protection.

8) Turtle shells

9) Porcupine quill accessories

10) Tiger-derived products such as bone wine, teeth or pelts

11) Any traditional medicinal products claiming to contain rhino horn, bear bile or other animal derivatives

12) Bird eggs or bird nests

13) Shahtoosh wool products

To take the pledge and learn more about Wildlife Conservation Day and IFAW's work to protect wildlife, please visit www.ifaw.org/wildlifepledge.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world.  With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent the cruelty of animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.  For more information, visit www.ifaw.org.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare