World Wildlife Day - 3 March
Wildlife plays important role in maintaining healthy societies and ecosystems
World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3 March every year and focuses on forest-based livelihoods and seeks to promote forest and forest wildlife management models and practices that accommodate both human well-being and the long-term conservation of forests, forest-dwelling species of wild fauna and flora and the ecosystems they sustain.
This year World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2021 under the theme "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet", as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.
Prof Michael J Somers, Associate Professor in the Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology emphasises the importance of wildlife. “Globally, wildlife plays many roles in maintaining healthy societies and ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems help reduce the effects of natural disasters such as flooding and large bush fires. In some areas, such as Africa, wildlife provides much food, formally and informally. This has been especially important in recent times with lost jobs and reduced income to buy food. South Africa’s wildlife is a primary reason tourists visit South Africa; it creates jobs and provides a positive image of our country. Our wildlife, especially the large charismatic species, such as lions, elephants, and rhinos, are of cultural importance to many of us and experiencing and viewing wildlife can improve mental health and overall well-being.”
To protect this resource and heritage, we need managers who can manage natural systems and the species in them. These managers need to have a balanced understanding of the needs of wildlife and the needs of humans who use or interact with nature. This is what we train our students to do when they do BSc (Hons) Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria,” he concluded.