On World Animal Day, we celebrate all the furry, scaly, winged and finned creatures that inhabit our planet.
On this international day of action, participants aim to “raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe,” according to organizers at the U.K.-based charity Naturewatch Foundation. The occasion was first celebrated in 1925 and is observed annually on Oct. 4.
Roughly 1,000 World Animal Day events, including educational workshops, adoptions, marches and fundraisers, will be held across 100 countries. Folks around the world are also making pledges, such as using cruelty-free products or going vegetarian or vegan to help make a positive difference.
At EcoWatch, animal conservation is a major priority. Animals not only inspire wonder and awe, but as important parts to the ecosystems they inhabit, biodiversity loss puts the environment and human well-being at risk.
The following list shows some of our most popular animal-related content in the past year. These five stories highlight the threats faced by creatures great and small, from pollinator deaths to “trophy” hunting. On a positive note, the list features conservation success stories, brave feats of activism and includes ways you can help protect animals in your everyday life.
1. EPA Considers Allowing Bee-Killing Pesticide to Be Sprayed on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland. This Dec. 2017 article by the Center for Biological Diversity reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had considered allowing the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam to be sprayed on the most widely grown crops in the U.S. This harmful neonicotinoid pesticide has long been known to pose serious harm to bee populations, as well as birds of all sizes and aquatic invertebrates.
- What you can do to help: The Xerces Society, a non-profit invertebrate conservation society you should consider supporting, has a number of recommendations to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids, from avoiding pesticide use around your home and asking your local nursery to stop selling the products.
2. Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise. A census of mountain gorillas showed that their population rose from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. The mountain gorilla subspecies is the only great ape known to be increasing in number.
- What you can do to help: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund recommends asking your lawmakers to continue to support the Great Ape Conservation Fund, as well as recycling cell phones and electronics, as they contain metals that are mined from gorilla habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fund also suggests looking for sustainable palm oil, wood and other eco-friendly products, as gorilla forest habitats in Asia are being deforested for their resources.
3. Father and Son Charged With Killing Mother Bear and ‘Shrieking’ Cubs in Den. In April, a father and son from Palmer, Alaska shot and killed a mother black bear and her two “shrieking” newborn cubs in their den. The hunt took place on state land but the topic of trophy hunting has reignited under the Trump administration, which is proposing to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska’s national preserves. The plan would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot bear cubs and wolf pups, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.
- What you can do to help: The proposed rule, which is posted in the federal register, is still accepting comments until 11:59 p.m. EST on Nov. 5, 2018. Make your voice heard!
4. Notorious Toothfish Poacher Arrested by Liberian Coast Guard, Assisted by Sea Shepherd. In March, an infamous Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish poaching vessel was arrested in Liberia with the assistance of Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation group.
- What you can do to help: Donate to Sea Shepherd, which has been patrolling the high seas and enforcing conservation law worldwide for more than 40 years. There are countless other non-profits such as Ocean Conservancy, Oceana and Surfrider Foundation that help protect our oceans and save the lives of aquatic life, dolphins, seals, whales and fish.
5. House Republicans Launch Extinction Bills to Cripple Endangered Species Act. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives initiated yet another attack on the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the move was among the 75-plus legislative attacks that have been launched against the Endangered Species Act ever since Trump took office – and more than 300 since 2011, when Republicans took over the U.S. House of Representatives.
- What you can do to help: The Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, is one of the most successful wildlife conservation laws in the world. More than 99 percent of species covered under the law have been saved from extinction. Protect the law from becoming extinct itself by telling Congress that you support the law and oppose any efforts to weaken it. You can also sign these petitions from Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council.