The organizations of conservation (Sixth in a series)

Western black rhino

The species of Western black rhinoceros was officially declared extinct on November 8. This picture was used with a Creative Commons license and is credited to M. Brunel who took the picture in 1977 in Bouba Ndjida National Park, Cameroon. The picture was found by the Scientific American blog in Pachyderm: The Journal of the African Elephant, African Rhino and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups.

There are a number of organizations that are putting time and effort into the conservation, protection and safety of wild animals and nature around the world.

Two of them are the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an organization with the goal of conserving and protecting nature worldwide.

It is “the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization,” according to its website.

The organization creates an assessment at least once a year called the IUCN Red List. It is produced and used to analyze data regarding plants and animals that are threatened, endangered or extinct.

Twenty-two per cent of mammals worldwide have been declared threatened or extinct, and there is insufficient data to determine whether another 15 per cent are endangered our not or not, according to the 2008 survey.

Recently, the Western Black rhinoceros was declared extinct following a long history of poaching and inadequate conservation efforts. It had not been seen since 2006.

Two other species of rhino, the Northern White and the Javan, are on their way to following suit unless something is done.

According to the Red List, Indonesia has the largest number of threatened mammal species with 184 species. It also contains the most species overall, with 670.

The largest threat that mammals face around the world is habitat loss and that has affected approximately 2,000 species to date, the Red List reports.

Statistics like these are produced to raise awareness and involve people worldwide once they realize the impact of human actions.

One of the world’s mammals that has been largely affected by habitat loss is the giant panda, which was discussed in the second article in this series.

The giant panda has been the symbol for the World Wildlife Fund since its creation in 1961.

Papier Mache pandas in France

In 2009, 1,600 pandas were placed on display in France to show the small number of giant pandas left in the wild. The pandas were placed in a number of cities to celebrate WWF France’s 35th birthday. Photo credits: Stéfan (flickr)

The choice of the panda bear as the symbol for WWF was made by Sir Peter Scott who said, upon drawing the initial model, “We wanted an animal that is beautiful, is endangered, and one loved by many people in the world for its appealing qualities. We also wanted an animal that had an impact in black and white to save money on printing costs.”

The panda is the only animal with all of these qualities. From its simplistic monochrome appearance to its lovable and cuddly reputation, it has become the symbol for conservation around the globe.

WWF has also made use of these animals by using the panda – as well as other animals at risk – to raise funds for it programs by allowing people to “adopt” them online, receiving a plush version of the animal and a certificate in return for a $50 donation.

The African rhino, which includes the black and white rhino species, is the most recent animal that has been added to their adoption list.

For the 2012 fiscal year, 84 per cent of donations raised by WWF went straight into their programs for care and conservation.

These two organizations have the same goal, but different ways of achieving it.

The IUCN takes a more scientific approach, and leans towards a more intellectual audience, while WWF has the facts in a user-friendly format that anyone, including children, who is looking for the basics can understand quickly and easily.

WWF seems to do more public presentations, such as the 2009 panda exhibit, however both organizations are well-known around the globe.

Without these activities, many more species would be dying out.

In the words of Craig Hilton-Taylor, the manager of the IUCN Red List Unit,”These results (from the Red List) are just the tip of the iceberg. We have only managed to assess 47,663 species so far; there are many more millions out there which could be under serious threat. We do, however, know from experience that conservation action works so let’s not wait until it’s too late and start saving our species now.”

It is inevitable that some animals will die out and go extinct, but we can at least help to slow the process.


Journalism student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Lover of social media, photography, and reading the news.

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