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Our latest conservation wins

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Millions unite online for Earth Hour 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, people from a record-breaking 190 countries and territories supported Earth Hour 2020 – helping to drawn attention to the crises of climate change and nature loss. With many countries under lockdown, people rose to the challenge of marking Earth Hour with a series of online events – generating over 4.7 billion social media impressions globally and leading to related hashtags trending across 37 countries on Twitter and Google search. Many renowned public figures, environmental activists and celebrities from across the globe supported the event. And the symbolic lights-out tradition was maintained, with over 100 iconic buildings – from the Sydney Opera House to the Colosseum in Rome – taking part. At a time when we are battling a health crisis of an unforeseen scale, it was inspiring to see so many of us voicing their belief in a better future for people and nature – from the youth in Nepal who shared their thoughts, art and photography on the need to protect nature to the people to the celebrities, artists and YouTubers who took part in a four-hour live online broadcast across Latin America. The spirit of Earth Hour was also demonstrated recently in Uganda which announced a ban on plastic use following an Earth Hour lead-up march against the ill-effects of plastic pollution.

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High-risk wildlife markets must close

With the tragic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak being felt around the world, our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones or who have become sick. While questions remain about the exact origins of the pandemic, the World Health Organization has confirmed it is a disease that has jumped from wildlife to humans, thereby bringing into sharp focus the potential risk wildlife markets can pose to human health and well-being. In light of these risks, a new survey across Asia, commissioned by WWF, found overwhelming public support for a government-led closure of illegal and unregulated wildlife markets, which risk being potential sources for similar diseases in the future. We support the closure of such high-risk markets, and are ready to provide technical support for monitoring the illegal wildlife trade and assist law enforcement agencies with their efforts to close these markets.

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© Adam Oswell / WWF Cambodia

Cambodian government rules out hydropower dams

In a major step forward for the people and wildlife that depend on the Mekong River in south-east Asia, the Cambodian government has ruled out hydropower dam development on the main river for the next 10 years. The science shows that the construction of dams would significantly reduce the world’s most productive wild freshwater fisheries that feed millions of people. It would block sediment flows, speeding up the sinking and shrinking of the Mekong delta and threatening the future of Vietnam's major rice basket, countless fishing communities and the area’s long-term economic sustainability. And it would further threaten the survival of the critically endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins – sacred to the Khmer and Lao people as well as an important income source for communities involved in dolphin-watching ecotourism. WWF stands ready to support the development of clean, renewable energy alternatives such as solar and wind that help to achieve the country’s energy goals while keeping rivers free flowing.

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New global standards for tracking seafood

With illegal fishing responsible for about 25 per cent of fish caught by commercial fishers globally, action was urgently needed to stabilize fish populations that provide protein to billions of people and jobs to hundreds of millions. For the past three years, WWF and partners have supported an initiative involving dozens of companies from around the world and across the seafood supply chain. As a result, new voluntary standards have been developed that enable the tracking of seafood from point of origin to point of sale. Having a common approach means that the various data systems from different companies in the supply chain can communicate seamlessly while protecting sensitive business information. More than a dozen companies that provide traceability solutions have already committed to developing products that comply with the standards. Read this blog from WWF and our partner, the IFT Global Food Traceability Center.

© naturepl.com / WWF

Consumer campaign tackles ivory demand

A WWF campaign during Lunar New Year has helped raised awareness about the poaching crisis that kills more than 20,000 elephants a year. Chinese consumers have been one of the major drivers of demand for ivory products, with consumer research finding that regular outbound travellers are the Chinese consumer group most interested in continuing to buy ivory despite a ban on ivory sales in China. Our #TravelIvoryFree campaign, building on similar campaigns in previous years, therefore focused on Chinese travellers visiting popular destinations across south-east Asia. Thanks in part to the participation of Chinese actor Zhu Yilong, WWF Ambassador for Global Wildlife Crime Campaign, the campaign has been viewed 260 million times on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Weibo. And there have been 3.4 million pledges to travel elephant ivory free. Also supporting the campaign has been a series of outdoor ads in both China and other countries across the region.

© Martin Harvey / WWF

Growing hope for black rhinos

Intensive protection efforts from WWF and others on behalf of the critically endangered black rhino is paying off. A WWF-backed conservation project in South Africa has contributed to a dramatic turnaround – with numbers doubling in the past two decades to over 5,600 – after the species was driven to the edge of extinction due to poaching and habitat loss. We have been working with private and community landholders, as well as state conservation agencies, to establish populations on large blocks of land – often involving the removal of fences to create larger reserves. Much more work is required to secure the future of black rhinos but we take great heart from the 13 populations established in South Africa since 2003, with sites now covering over 300,000 hectares. And these efforts are also helping other species, which need large areas of land, such as cheetah, vultures and wild dogs.

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