UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s explained in an event observing World Wildlife Day: “For this year’s World Wildlife Day, the spotlight falls on the world’s big cats.
These magnificent predators, which include species such as cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers, are found from Africa to Asia and the Americas. Since the earliest of times, big cats have provided a universal symbol of grace, power and elegance…
These charismatic creatures are increasingly in danger of extinction. Big cats have undergone a massive decline in recent times. Just over a century ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today, fewer than 4,000 remain. They have lost 96 per cent of their historic range. The story is similar for all the big cats. They say cats have nine lives. Our big cats are on at least number eight. We are the cause of their decline, so we can also be their salvation.”
He encouraged everyone that the solution to saving big cats and all other threatened and endangered species is conservation based on sound science and the rule of law. He continued, “This must always give full consideration and respect to the rights and needs of local people.
When local communities and economies benefit from wildlife conservation, strategies are much more likely to succeed. We need a new paradigm for conservation and the sustainable management of the habitats — a paradigm that acknowledges that economic growth is not in direct conflict with conservation. The two can and should coexist. Without sustainable development of communities, poaching and illegal trade will not be fully eradicated and biodiversity will not be protected.
The solutions go beyond having stringent laws and declaring national protected areas. We need new forms of partnerships among Governments, conservation groups and local communities to address wildlife conservation as a source of economic opportunity and stability. And we need people-centered and planet-sensitive economic growth strategies that support environmental protection and wildlife conservation.