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Wildlife Conservation Day was established in 2012 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Since then, December 4th has served as a reminder to acknowledge the great work being done by conservationists across the globe as well as the work that still lies ahead of us. Today, we want to acknowledge the status of some of our favorite—and most threatened—species.
Elephants are considered Vulnerable as humans continue to hunt them for their ivory tusks. Elephants also struggle with a gestational period that is longer than most mammals, meaning only one calf is born every three to six years. With only 415,000 left in the world and 8% poached each year, we are facing the reality that wild elephants could be extinct in our lifetime.
Although southern white rhinos are thriving in protected lands and are now classified as Near Threatened, the western black and northern white rhinos are now extinct in the wild, with only two northern white rhinos remaining at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Although black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades, there are still only a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early 20th century. Fortunately, successful conservation efforts have helped revitalize the Asian rhinoceros species, improving their status from Endangered to Vulnerable.
The Grevy’s Zebra is classified as Endangered as its population has declined over 50% in the past decade. This severe reduction is due in large part to the fact that they have experienced one of the most substantial range reductions of any mammal while also being killed for their hides and meat.
With a population that has decreased 43% in 21 years, lions are classified as Vulnerable, a status they have maintained since 1996. Unfortunately, humans are the greatest threat to the King of the Jungle. Conflict between humans and lions over habitat have forced many lions out of their homes and onto human lands, causing humans to kill lions they perceive as a threat. Furthermore, humans continue to hunt lions for trophies, bringing this species ever closer to Endangered status.
Though they can outrun almost any predator, no cheetah is fast enough to escape the threat of losing 2.26% of its historical range each year. These majestic creatures are classified as Vulnerable because there are fewer than 7,000 left in the wild and only about 5% of cubs survive to adulthood. Considered vermin by European settlers in the 1970s, cheetahs have been hunted for decades by poachers who sell them as pets or kill them for their beautiful coats. Cheetahs are also threatened by human-wildlife conflict as the loss of their natural prey and habitat forces them to attack livestock.
Although there are many thoughtful partners working for the conservation of our favorite species, they need all of our support. As we celebrate Wildlife Conservation Day and the approaching holiday season, consider a purchase from our partners honoring your favorite animal. Each print you purchase contributes proceeds directly to the amazing work of these organizations and the longevity of these threatened species.