Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, UN World Wildlife Day serves to raise awareness and to advocate for the preservation of the world’s wild plants and animals. Given the current dangers of extinction and loss of habitat wildlife currently faces, World Wildlife Day is more important than ever for raising awareness of the needs of wildlife throughout the globe. World Wildlife Day this year celebrates the theme “Listen to Young Voices.” The theme is meant to recognize the invaluable role young individuals plays in addressing threats to wildlife, given that approximately ¼ of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24.

Few places, if any, around the world remain untouched by human hands. Especially because of man-made climate change, humans’ impact is undeniably felt in every region across the globe. Wildlife, unfortunately, often suffers for this ubiquitous presence. Of the estimated 5 to 15 million species of plants, animals, and microorganisms living on this planet, about 23% of mammals and 12% of birds are currently considered “under threat.” 99% of these threatened species are at risk because of human activities. Natural extinction is occurring at a much higher rate due to pollution, climate change, deforestation, and many other factors. In fact, it is occurring so fast, that some have even claimed that we are currently in the midst of the world’s sixth mass extinction.

There are many organizations involved in the effort of preserving and protecting wildlife. One such organization is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which is an organization committed to preserving and protecting nature throughout the Earth. Working in over 100 different countries, WWF sustains a global network that has worked for the past 50 years on conserving nature. Individuals, specifically youth, can become involved simply through spreading the message and advocating for change, but also by making monthly gifts, ‘symbolically’ adopting an animal, and fundraising for the cause.

Another organization dedicated to reversing the “dwindling spiral of life on Earth” is The Earth Organization. Having chapters and projects all over the world, The Earth Organization works towards a better and brighter future where animals and wildlife are protected from human beings’ wasteful hands. People are able to get involved in this organization by donating, volunteering, opening a local chapter, becoming an Ambassador, and by becoming a member of The Earth Organization.

Though the future seems wary, change is possible, and there have been a number of successes. One such success is the story of the Indian rhino. In 1975, only about 600 Indian rhinos remained alive. But through dedicated conservation efforts, specifically with the support of organizations like WWF and The Earth Organization, the number of rhinos increased to 3,000 by 2012.

The Indian rhino serves as a great example of what can be accomplished if time and effort is put into preserving and protecting a wildlife species. Youth must be engaged and organizations must work together if the habitats and lives of wildlife species are to be preserved for generations to come. Only by uniting in global efforts to combat this harrowing loss of biodiversity will humans be able to save the lives of species that still remain. It is up to us to protect the species who live around us.