As we approach World Rhino Day 2020, on September 22nd, I ask you to pause for a moment and take a step back in time to September 2019. As we reflect on what was happening in our lives, both personally and professionally, in the autumn of 2019, little could we imagine what was just on the horizon. Many of us, myself included, are still working through how this pandemic will change our lives for the foreseeable future. But uncertainty can also drive action and change and I want to share some exciting news on a decision I have made as result of COVID-19.
A few months ago, I launched Active for Animals to put a stake in the ground and say that I am not going to sit idly by and wait for someone else to fix the problems I see in our natural world. Now I know you could ask, with so many problems facing humanity, why have you chosen to help wildlife. In fact, my teenage daughter asked me recently why I was so passionate about helping endangered animals when there are so many social injustices happening to humans here in the United States and around the world. It is a valid question and I understand where she is coming from but my answer is that I choose to volunteer my time to help endangered animals because of this startling fact — if you total up all the non-government donations in the United States only about 0.3%* (yes, that is not a typo 0.3%) goes to wildlife conservation. So, you see, most people give to people related causes. This is why I have chosen to give my time and energy to wildlife, because these animals are disappearing at an alarming rate.
And now with the global pandemic, it turns out the efforts of animal and environmental organizations may also help save human lives by preventing the next global pandemic. For two decades some of the world’s leading scientists have been expecting such a pandemic. They knew that humans were vulnerable because the line between us and exotic animals had long been breached. They couldn’t get us to listen. The coronavirus is not just a wake up call, it is a fire alarm blaring! This disease has one thing in common with diseases like Ebola, SARS, Nipah, Bird flu, Rabies and Bubonic Plague — they all were transmitted from animals to humans. The next global pandemic is not far off unless, as a society, we can all raise our awareness to what we are doing to animals through exploitation for trade, both illegal and legal. Captive breeding and harvesting wildlife from the wild are the first steps in the supply chain for fashion, food, medicine and exotic pets; and not only wildlife products found in wet markets. All this means that “Millions of protected species are massacred each year for a profit and the World Customs Organization estimated the illegal trade to be worth at $91- 258 billion USD per year, an amount that is, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), growing at 2–3 times the pace of the global economy. This makes environmental crime the fourth largest criminal endeavor in the world, following drug trafficking, counterfeiting and trafficking in human beings.”
The Time To Get Involved Is Now
And I am inviting people from all generations, skills and experiences to take visible action for wildlife. In the coming weeks, months and years let’s build an active network of caring citizens. Together we can find ways to help each other become visibly and constantly active to make a difference for wildlife. I am in this for the long-run; I would love for you to join me. Our initial focus will be to continue the work to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Viet Nam. The number of rhinos that were killed for their horn has been decreasing since the peak in 2014 but there is still a lot of work to do to change the behavior of the buyers. One of our first campaigns is the One Small Step campaign. Wherever you are in the world, you can become a Rhino Ambassador. One of the easiest and most effective ways of showing your support for rhinos is to send a letter to your local Vietnamese Embassy asking for their help to close down the trade. Visit our website to find some assistance to help you get Active For Animals One Small Step at a time. __________________________________________________________ *: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=42 From the page: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.categories&categoryid=1 Total number of charities Environment/Animals = 995, of this Wildlife conservation = 107 about 10% about 0.3% of total donation