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Wildlife

© Parsing Eye/Unsplash

WWF aims to secure in the wild the world’s most threatened, and ecologically, economically and culturally important species.

To attain this goal by 2030, WWF will focus on achieving two linked outcomes:
  1. Vital habitats conserved: protected areas and community conserved areas of high biodiversity value cover at least 30 per cent of the Earth, and are measurably improved in management and connectivity;
  2. Overexploitation prevented: The illegal wildlife trade is eliminated and exploitation is reduced to sustainable levels for priority species.

Africa’s extraordinary wildlife has long symbolised the continent’s natural riches. Species such as elephant and rhino, great apes, large cats and turtles are often seen as flagships, helping mobilise support for conservation action to protect the species, their habitats and the myriad creatures that share their wild space.

© Abhishek Madhavan / WWF

But several factors are changing the rules of the game. Population growth – including the projected doubling of Africa’s population to 2,3 billion by 2050 – plus the need to hugely increase food production to feed this increase over the next 30 years, are already posing new and greater threats to Africa’s wildlife. As people and their farming activities move into the wild spaces, conflicts between people, their crops and livestock, and wildlife are increasing. Adding further pressures are wildlife crime, such as poaching, and the illegal wildlife trade.

Other threats are posed by destructive development activities such as dam and road building, and oil and gas exploitation. And the changes in climate due to global warming are further pressuring wildlife as rainfall patterns change, floods and drought and other extreme weather events become more common, throwing wildlife cycles such as migration into disarray, as well as predator-prey and other relationships. Meanwhile, largely unseen, bushmeat hunting is emptying forests and woodland, and dynamite fishing is devastating coral reefs and fish populations.

WWF is actively addressing these issues. As a baseline, WWF is further building on the network of terrestrial and marine protected areas, creating connectivity between protected areas with wildlife corridors and across frontiers, and strengthening management and increasing anti-poaching patrols. Linked to this are efforts to help indigenous and local communities improve their agricultural productivity without requiring extra land, especially around protected areas, and to cope with changes in climate by helping build resilience and capacity for adaptive management. 

Throughout Africa, WWF works with partners to create and strengthen community-based organisations to assist with the conservation and wise use of the natural resources they depend on. Examples such as the ongoing increase in mountain gorilla numbers in Greater Virunga are the result of communities wanting to maintain their wildlife and resources.

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© WWF / Simon Rawles