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Illegal Wildlife Property. (Photo Credit: Ryan Moehring / USFWS)

Illegal Wildlife Property. (Photo Credit: Ryan Moehring / USFWS)

(This post originally appeared on IFAW. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

I am often asked by friends who do not work so directly with non-profit or cause-related organizations how they can help make a difference in the fight against wildlife crime.

Most of the work that is being done to police poaching and trafficking is dangerous and requires highly skilled law enforcement professionals. The average concerned citizen simply can’t be involved in this, nor would they want to be. The large-scale demand reduction campaigns the International Fund for Animal Welfare executes require media partnerships and relationships with influential government officials—people most of you don’t have the opportunity to interact with on a regular basis.

Today is the second annual World Wildlife Day, established when CITES invited the United Nations General Assembly to adopt this date as such. We are particularly keen on the theme this year: “Get serious about wildlife crime.”

IFAW will be hosting events worldwide to celebrate this important message.

  • In Moscow, a press conference about wildlife crime will take place at the State Darwin Museum, where people can see the myriad skins, tusks and other wildlife derivatives confiscated at customs.
  • In Hamburg, there will be an outdoor display featuring wildlife-shaped ice sculptures.
  • In Capetown, our “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign will be seen on street posters and lamppost flags throughout the city.

But what if you aren’t in Russia, Germany or Capetown?

What can you do to help—from your home or community?

Spread the word. In this world of ubiquitous social media, it is quite easy now to help educate friends and family on issues that are important to you.

Like organizations like ours on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and share our posts/tweets when one speaks to you. Making people aware of issues is a noble utilization of the medium, and many users respond quite positively to sharing this information.

The electronic versions of our eye-catching “Don’t Let Them Disappear” posters can be passed around via email and social media and can help make an impact.

Teach your children. While a lot of the problems we’ve created for wildlife cannot be rectified immediately, we can/must continue to enlighten the next generation to the plight of these key species in the hope that they continue the fight.

On this particular World Wildlife Day, we’ve put together a video of children from around the world talking about the importance of saving wildlife in their many different languages. Watch the video below, and share this too.

Let your government leaders know that you are concerned. While you may not be in the room with many government leaders, you can still speak to them. There are a host of platforms that deliver petitions to varying levels of government and the best way to find each is via our Action Alert email delivered to your email inbox. Sign up using the box at the top right of this page. You can also visit IFAW’s Get Involved page and select from the wide range of actions there.

Don’t buy goods that result from wildlife trade. Each year, millions of tourists travel to exotic locations and witness or encounter wildlife in its natural environment, harmlessly, only to unwittingly bring home souvenirs made from that very wildlife they so admired. Take the Think Twice pledge: Don’t buy wildlife souvenirs.

Not all of us can hop on a plane and be the boots on the ground to make a difference directly. But that shouldn’t deter us from trying to make a difference in ways that are convenient for us.

This World Wildlife Day, join IFAW in speaking out for animals by taking one of these actions.

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