Many of us may regularly come across hundreds and hundreds of wildlife organizations working locally, nationally and internationally towards the common goal of spreading the word about the plight of many animals and implementing projects for their protection and well-being.
The focus of this article is on the large international organizations which promote the conservation of endangered animals as part of their remit.
Most wildlife charities promote an "ecosystem approach" to animal conservation.
In brief, this means that in order to achieve the highest possible success in protecting a certain animal species of from the threats they face, many (if not all) other components of the ecosystem hosting this species (such as other species of animals and plants), have to be protected and managed in a sustainable way.
Quite often these organizations are criticized for "getting too close" to business. The main criticism is that getting into partnerships with private companies (for example, providing private companies with an alternative "marketing spring-board with an environmental spin" in return for financial contributions) may significantly reduce the level of objectivity and independence of these charities in their work for nature conservation.
IUCN - World Conservation Union
The IUCN - World Conservation Union is the world's largest conservation network.
It is an umbrella organization that brings together 83 States, 110 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries. (1)
The Union's mission is "to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable." (2)
One part of the IUCN's complex structural organization is the Species Survival Commission (SSC).
The SSC is "the biggest network of conservation experts dedicated to fighting the species extinction crisis". (3) In other words, the SSC's primary aim is the protection of species from extinction.
The SSC works via a number of specialist animal groups, specifically: (4)
- Amphibians & Reptiles;
The SSC produces the most authoritative international assessment of the state of global biodiversity - the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The SSC's assessment of global biodiversity is a blueprint for many conservationists around the world in their decision-making for conservation projects.
It also provides advice to governments, international environmental treaties and conservation organizations on the best use of natural resources. (5)
The IUCN - World Conservation Union is the ultimate authority for producing biodiversity related data. We use a lot of IUCN's data in our articles throughout this website.
The WWF is an international charity for nature conservation which works in 90 countries and supports 15,000 conservation and environmental projects around the world. (6)
Conservation of endangered species is one of the WWF's most important objectives.
The strategies that the WWF applies to conserving endangered species aim to have a knock-on effect on wider ecosystems, and are as follows: (7)
- Increasing the number, size and connectivity of protected areas
- Encouraging interaction and debate on issues that affect humans and nature
- Encouraging participation of governments in international conventions such as CITES, which aim to control and curb the international trade in animals
- Creating opportunities for tourism benefiting both local communities and the environment
- Helping to raise awareness about conservation and the importance of sustainability
- Providing important economic and social benefits for local communities.
It's also well worth highlighting that the WWF implements the specialised programmes for the conservation of target endangered species. Some of them are the African Great Apes Programme and the Tiger Programme.
Jane Goodall is one of my personal all-time inspirations. It's really difficult to overestimate what she has done for the primates over the last several decades.
The Jane Goodall Institute's objectives are: (8)
- Increase primate habitat conservation
- Increase awareness of, support for and training in issues related to our relationship with each other, the environment and other animals (leading to behavior change)
- Expand non-invasive research programs on chimpanzees and other primates
- Promote activities that ensure the well-being of chimpanzees, other primates and animal welfare activities in general
While the Jane Goodall Institute has offices all over the world, its main programs for chimpanzee research and conservation are based in the Afrcican countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Sierra Leone. (9)
The WCS is another prominent international wildlife charity whose aim is "saving wildlife and wild lands through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks." (10)
Though the WCS has been working from its New York Bronx Zoo headquareters since it was founded in 1895 it is certainly an institution with a truly international dimension.
The Society works in 53 countries around the world, protecting a great number of wild landscape hosting from the smallest to the largest animals. (11)
Specifically, the WCS is very active in the area of the western lowland gorilla conservation in Central Africa which has been discussed in the Gorilla Conservation article in our website.
There are also many wildlife organizations that work regionally to help improve the lives of wild animals.