Success stories and strategies to help save our endangered animals

It’s Endangered Species Day today, Friday the 19th of May 2017. And with wildlife so very close to our hearts at Specials4Africa, we’re backing the ‘laws of attraction’ theory and giving out a good dose of positive thinking around this issue – we can only be proactive and positive – there is no space for a defeatist attitude in this arena!

But, if I’m honest about it, while sitting behind my desk, I feel incredibly helpless. I’m not out there in the field dealing with the trauma, pain and pressure experienced daily by our fearless conservationists, rangers and activists. We may see the results of attacks on our social media feeds, but that is a far cry from tackling the problem at a grassroots level.

I care, I care deeply – I just don’t know where or how to channel my care… What can I do to help, practically, that will make a difference?

After reading, researching and investigating this topic, I have taken it upon myself to focus on the power of the small contribution. To add, if only a drop, of positive momentum to the conservation movements and efforts that have managed to successfully save species all over the world. By constantly applying pressure in the right places and by making examples of the ‘saved’, we can keep moving forward in this fight.

Regardless of what you might think, buying that ‘Relate bracelet’ was more than just an act of solidarity that added a pop of colour to your outfit. Making that pledge to not support the Ivory Trade was more than just a decision that affected the knives and forks in your table décor plan. Riding the Cape Town Cycle tour in nothing more than a plastic red rhino horn was more than just a show of uncomfortable, comedic support for your chosen cause. By doing these things; making these small gestures and commitments, we’re able to send out a positive and reinforcing message to the teams who are on the ground facing poachers, disheartening deaths and devastating discoveries. These small gestures reiterate the message to those who need it most: WE ARE BEHIND YOU, KEEP FIGHTING, KEEP GOING, EVERY ANIMAL IS WORTH IT, DON’T GIVE UP!


With the help of unrelenting conservation efforts (driven and maintained by your support and contributions, no matter how big or small) various species have been brought back from the brink, worldwide.

According to and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) the Indian Rhino population was sitting at 600 in total (1975) but with relentless dedication to Indian Rhino Conservation the population numbers began to climb reaching 3000 in 2012. It may have been a slow recovery, but the world still has the Indian Rhino, so a successful recovery none the less. Improved protection combined with grass-root anti-poaching programs have kept their entire population of rhinos safe from poachers for the third year in a row since 2011, the WWF said in a statement published online Feb. 8, 2016.

After nearly three decades of steady recovery, the number of Grizzly Bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho has grown to approximately 700 individuals — up from 136 counted in 1975 — prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to propose removing the species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Grizzlies now occupy over 22,500 square miles of the Yellowstone ecosystem, more than doubling their 1970s range.

Manatees — once mistaken by likely delirious sailors as alluring mermaids — were listed as endangered by the USFWS in 1967, when only a few hundred individuals swam in Florida waters. But on Jan. 7, 2016, the USFWS announced in a statement that they were reclassifying West Indian manatees, changing their status from “endangered” to “threatened” due to significant improvements in the manatees’ habitats and in the animals’ populations, now numbering over 6,300 in Florida and approximately 13,000 worldwide.

After 10 years of conservation work in Indonesia’s Sebangau National Park, the WWF announced in November 2015 in a statement that orangutan numbers in the reserve — which holds the largest wild orangutan population in the world — had risen by 7 percent since 2007, with 5,826 individuals recently counted. However, ongoing efforts will be required to ensure the species’ survival, the WWF added, as 70 percent of orangutans live outside of protected areas and are threatened by logging and agricultural expansion.

Yes, we are fighting an exhausting fight for our Rhino here in RSA; it’s a very active and intense conservation mission. Sometimes it feels like we’re winning, and then suddenly, with the news of a devastating attack, it feels like we are losing the battle and fast.

Our appeal to all fellow animal lovers, wildlife admirers and parents is to please keep on supporting these missions. Buy the bracelet if you can. Buy the decorated shopping bag instead of another plastic one, if you can. Swipe your My School card. Run the marathon in the name of your favourite animal. Take some time to read through our RSA endangered species list. Drive slower in areas that are home to the endangered Blue Crane. Take responsibility for your role in conserving our precious animals, right down to throwing away the garbage that could pose a harmful threat to our birds, ocean animals and land mammals. Inform, educate and chat to your neighbours – especially if they’re farmers who need a little enlightening on Wild Dogs and Cheetah as livestock predators. Take time to set the record straight where you can.

Keep talking. Keep supporting. Keep fighting.

If we surrender into silence, our children may never have the privilege of seeing the magic of a majestic Elephant, Rhino or Pygmy Blue Whale. And I don’t know about you but I don’t consider that to be an option.

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#EndangeredSpeciesDay #Support #Care #lovelocal

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