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UN marks inaugural World Wildlife Day

New York, US - The UN on Monday marked the first ever World Wildlife Day, with a warning that nature is under threat, while stressing the need to protect biological diversity and halt environmental crimes.

PANA in New York reports that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a message, said: 'Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage.'

He stated that some of the world’s most charismatic animals are in immediate danger of extinction as a result of habitat loss and illicit trafficking.

'I urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably,' Ban noted.

In the message, which was presented in Geneva at an exhibition tagged: 'Wild and Precious', the UN chief lamented that, 'sadly, many of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction'.

He said: 'Wildlife is part of our shared heritage. We need it for our shared future.'

The UN General Assembly designated 3 March for the World Wildlife Day to coincide with the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement between Governments of 176 Member States.

Administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Geneva, its aim is to ensure that global trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals does not threaten their survival.

The CITES Secretariat, in collaboration with UN agencies, implements the aims of the World Wildlife Day.

The Convention’s Secretary-General, John Scanlon, in a statement, called on everyone celebrating the Day 'as citizens and as consumers' to bring the illegal billion-dollar industry to an end.

Mr. Scanlon said: 'Let’s work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony'.

Also, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in a statement, noted that, 'wildlife crime is another form of organised crime and fuels trafficking and terrorism'.

UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Yury Fedotov, stressed that the UNODC is active in two areas essential to reducing such crimes, demand reduction and sustainable livelihoods to combat failure in our 'stewardship of this planet’s biodiversity'.

He emphasized the importance of breaking with the past traditions that help drive these crimes, saying: 'young people are the next generation of potential purchasers of illegal wildlife commodities. Working globally, we can deliver science-based information to young people and help dispel the misinformation'.

This year’s World Wildlife Day falls within the UN Decade on Biodiversity, which started in 2011, to promote the implementation of a strategic plan on biodiversity and its overall vision of living in harmony with nature.

Pana 04/03/2014