Inspired by a series of articles in a UK newspaper written by Sir Julian Huxley about the destruction of habitat and wildlife in East Africa, businessman Victor Stolan pointed out the urgent need for an international organization to raise funds for conservation. The idea was then shared with Max Nicholson, Director General of British government agency Nature Conservancy, who enthusiastically took up the challenge.
Nicholson was motivated in part by the financial difficulties facing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)), and felt that a new fundraising initiative might help IUCN and other conservation groups carry out their mission. He drafted a plan in April 1961 that served as a basis for WWF’s founding, which was then endorsed by the executive board of IUCN in a document known as the Morges Manifesto.
Nicholson and approximately two dozen other individuals – including Sir Peter Scott, a member of IUCN’s executive board who had signed the Morges Manifesto and later became WWF’s first vice president – hammered out the details of the new organization in a series of meetings over the following months. This included choosing the name World Wildlife Fund and adopting the now-famous panda logo.
More than 50 years on, the black and white panda is a well-known household symbol in many countries. And the organization itself is lucky enough to have won the backing of more than 5 million people throughout the world, and can count the actions taken by people in support of its efforts into the billions.