EDITORIAL - The future is in our hands

The Philippine Star

Humans, it is said, are the only creatures that kill other species for purposes other than survival. Whether deliberately or inadvertently in the course of human development activities, this has contributed to the extinction of a host of species and endangerment of many others.

Public awareness of the problem has increased in the past decades, allowing conservationists to turn the tide. The task, however, remains daunting, as even efforts to confront climate change, such as biofuel production, have had unintended consequences on the survival of certain species.

Today the country joins the international community in marking World Wildlife Day with at least one piece of good news: efforts to save the Philippine Eagle have been successful enough that the Eagle Center in Davao is reportedly running out of space for the raptors bred in captivity.

In the wild, however, eagles remain favorite targets of hunters for both food and sport. The nation’s capability to protect wildlife from traffickers, poachers and hunters also remains inadequate. Even communities that have learned the economic value of protecting wildlife and their habitats still see these natural attractions facing various threats.

Worldwide, the United Nations has seen intensified efforts to protect wildlife, with UN member states last year adopting the Sustainable Development Goals to end poaching. The UN General Assembly also unanimously approved a resolution limiting wildlife trafficking.

This year, the UN is focusing on community participation to further improve wildlife conservation efforts. The involvement of communities that live in close proximity with wildlife is essential in stopping the slaughter of animals such as elephants for ivory tusks and other parts.

Rhinos, tigers, whales and cheetahs also remain endangered. In the Philippines, poachers and wildlife traffickers continue to collect pangolins, sea turtles and tarsiers.

The collective success of the international community depends on individual actions to protect wildlife. As the UN points out in today’s theme, the future of wildlife is in our hands.

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