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  • Climate action shines bright as record number of countries and territories join Earth Hour's tenth anniversary

    WWF's Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia, ten years on.  © Quentin Jones / AustraliaSINGAPORE, 26 March 2017 - An unprecedented 187 countries and territories came together for WWF's Earth Hour on Saturday 25 March to take a stand for climate action. More than 3,000 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organizations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. Online, #EarthHour and related terms generated over 1.1 billion impressions in 24 hours, trending in at least 30 countries worldwide.
     
    This year's event marked the tenth anniversary of the Earth Hour movement, which started as a one-city event in Sydney in 2007, and comes at a time when the need for climate action is greater than ever. 2016 was the hottest year on record and ambitious action is needed by governments, companies and people, their biggest stakeholders, to meet the targets set in the landmark Paris Agreement that entered into force in November last year.
     
    "Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour," said Sid Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. "Whether you are in the Philippines, Peru or Portugal, climate change matters and the record participation in this year's Earth Hour is a powerful reminder that people, who are on the frontline of climate change, want to be a part of climate action."
     
    Across the globe, Earth Hour is inspiring and mobilizing people to be a part of the climate action our planet urgently needs at a personal, community and national level.
     
    In India, as the presidential residence Rashtrapati Bhavan and New Delhi's India Gate switched off their lights, thousands were encouraged to make the switch to renewable energy and LED lighting.
     
    In Poland and Bulgaria, people have been uniting to raise their voice against laws and policies that threaten biodiversity and the ecosystems that provide clean air, water, food and stable climate, underpinning our wellbeing as well as that of the planet.  
     
    "From the shrinking of Arctic ice to coral reef bleaching, there are clear indicators that we are pushing our planet to the edge - and it is together as a global community that we can turn it around. The grassroots must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger climate action - the time to act is now," added Das.
     
    In his video statement for Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the need for people to work together to build a sustainable, climate-resilient future.
     
    This includes enhancing climate education among the young, such as in Bhutan and Guyana, where students are learning about climate and environmental issues in climate science centres and conservation lab sessions set up by WWF.
     
    To mark the tenth anniversary of the movement, people also took to their social media timelines to express their solidarity with climate action, as skylines around the world participated in the global lights out event. From donating five posts on their Facebook page to changing their profile picture, thousands switched on their social power to raise their voice for a cause they believe in.

    "Each light turned off or profile picture changed represents an individual who has made the switch from being a passive bystander to someone eager to be a part of the solution and that has been the energy that has made Earth Hour the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment today," said Das.
     
    As the hour rolls to a close in the Pacific Ocean's Cook Islands, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will continue to empower individuals, communities, businesses and governments to be a part of climate action. Strengthened by the support shown this weekend, teams will renew the charge to tackle issues such as sustainable lifestyles in Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Indonesia, a transition toward renewables in South Africa, Hungary and Myanmar, and promoting stronger climate ambition and action in the UK, Spain and at the EU level.
     
    Earth Hour 2017 by numbers (based on initial estimates on 26 March 2017, 8:30 a.m. GMT):

    • record participation by 187 countries and territories shining a light on climate action and issues such as renewable energy, sustainable lifestyles, protecting biodiversity and stronger climate policy. Seven countries have specifically focused their campaign on changing climate policy.
    • lights out at over 3,000 iconic landmarks including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (London), the Tokyo Tower (Tokyo), the Empire State Building (New York), Singapore Flyer (Singapore), the Pyramids of Egypt (Cairo), Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Abu Dhabi), Monumento a la Independencia (Mexico City) and the Eiffel Tower (Paris);
    • over 3.5 billion impressions of official campaign hashtags between January and March 2017 with one-third of the impressions being generated between 25 and 26 March alone;
    • over 300 celebrities and influencers worldwide also raised their voice for climate action including WWF Global Ambassadors Jared Leto and Andy Murray as well as Li Bingbing, Ellie Goulding, Claudia Bahamon, Amitabh Bachchan and Forest Whitaker.
    Since 2007, WWF's Earth Hour has mobilized businesses, organizations, governments and hundreds of millions of individuals in over 7,000 cities to act for a sustainable future.
     
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    Notes to Editors:
    Images from Earth Hour events around the world can be found here and video footages are available here.
     
    You can also find previous Earth Hour videos on the links indicated below:http://hive.panda.org/Share/xvl8v858j4yr7u805f5lbvkaf8e002v3

    To know more about WWF's work on climate policy and action, please visit http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/climate_carbon_energy/
     
    For more information, please contact:
    Rucha Naware, WWF International: rnaware@wwfint.org; +32465751339
    Julien Anseau, WWF International: janseau@wwfint.org; +6590601957

  • Three arrested for trafficking 159 ivory tusks

    Ivory tusks seized from traffickers in eastern Cameroon © Kisito KoumaiThe tusks were stocked in a metallic seal and concealed in the back booth of a car. Said to have been transited from the town of Djoum in the South Region of Cameroon, the suspects disclosed they were taking the tusks to the north of the country. The tusks could have been probably smuggled out of the country into neighbouring Nigeria. They have been kept under seal in the regional service of Cameroon's Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife until judicial procedures are completed.

    This seizure comes at a time Cameroon and other countries in the Congo Basin are struggling to save the elephants whose numbers have fallen by 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011. Meanwhile, Wildlife inventories conducted in 2015 showed a decline of up to 75 percent of elephant population in Boumba-Bek and Nki national parks in Cameroon, while Minkebe National Park in neighboring Gabon lost 80 per cent of its elephant between 2002 and 2014.

    "This latest seizure is testimony of the existential threats elephants are facing today," says Lamine Sebogo, WWF head of African Elephant Program. "At least 80 elephants have been killed. This is a big loss for biodiversity, the national economy, the communities and the entire humanity. It is time to take measures to upscale funding to save the few remaining forest elephants of the Congo Basin," Lamine says.
    WWF commends the government of Cameroon for this effort and looks forward to seeing effective prosecution and appropriate sanctions meted out on the traffickers.

    According to Cameroon wildlife law, any person found, at any time or any place, in possession of part of a protected animal, including elephant tusks, shall be considered to have killed the animal. The maximum penalties for the killing of a protected animal like an elephant are three years' imprisonment and/or ten million francs CFA.  Last year more than 100 people were prosecuted for poaching related offences. In spite of this effort, ivory trafficking remains alarmingly high in the Congo Basin with Cameroon being used as the main transit route for smuggling of tusks out of the region.   

  • WWF celebrates the greatest successes of the last year on World Wildlife Day

    Giant panda  An An eating bamboo   © Susan A. MAINKA / WWFToday marks the third anniversary of World Wildlife Day, a day dedicated to celebrate the precious animals and plant life that share our planet.  WWF is taking this opportunity to reflect on the five greatest successes for wildlife over the last year.
    Five of the greatest success stories for wildlife (March 2016-2017):

    • Wild tiger numbers increase for the first time in conservation history
    • Pandas are no longer classified as 'endangered'
    • All trade in the world's most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, is now illegal
    • Saving World Heritage sites – home to iconic species including elephants, rhinos dolphins and marine turtles
    • China, home to the world's largest legal ivory trade market announces closure by end of 2017
    Last year it was revealed that there could be a 67 per cent decline* by 2020 in global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles and that there already had been a 58 per cent decline between 1970 and 2012. WWF and ZSL's Living Planet Report 2016, shows that humans are pushing species populations to the edge as people overpower the planet for the first time in Earth's history.

    Margaret Kinnaird, WWF's Wildlife Practice leader, comments:
     "We are at a pivotal point for many of the most fragile species, threatened by human activity including the ongoing poaching crisis, impacts of climate change and habitat destruction.  However, despite these grave threats, the past year has welcomed wildlife successes that will go down in conservation history. There's still a long road ahead and small but significant victories hang on a knife edge. It is vital that the progress made over the past twelve months develops further and this momentum is shared worldwide. We want to see greater achievements still for World Wildlife Day 2018."

    Success stories 2016-2017:

    Wild tiger numbers increase for the first time in conservation history
    In April, the number of wild tigers was revised to 3,890 making conservation history as the first recorded time that global numbers of wild tigers have increased. The updated minimum figure, compiled from IUCN data and the latest national tiger surveys, indicates a greater number of individuals than the 2010 estimate of 'as few as 3,200' due to concerted efforts from governments, communities and NGO's.
     
    Pandas are no longer classified as 'endangered'
    In September, the IUCN announced that the giant panda would be downgraded from endangered to vulnerable as a result of a recent 17 per cent increase in population numbers. This positive step highlighted how a holistic approach integrating government and local communities can help save our planet's vanishing biodiversity. The progression of panda populations from endangered to vulnerable not only strengthens the long term survival of China's giant pandas but also signifies greater protection of their unique habitat.

    All trade in the world's most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, is now illegal
    During the world's largest illegal wildlife trade meeting (CITES CoP17) last September, countries untied to strengthen protection for the world's most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. All legal trade of pangolins has now ended thanks to an international agreement to further protect the critically endangered species from extinction.
     
    Saving World Heritage sites
    Half of natural world heritage sites are at risk from industrial activity including mining, dredging and oil and gas drilling. These treasured sites are also home to many threatened iconic species.

    In October, Belize's barrier reef home to dolphins and marine turtles, received a reprieve from seismic surveying after officials agreed to suspend the seismic portion of offshore oil exploration. Following WWF's public campaign, in December the Spanish government cancelled plans to dredge Doñana National Park. The site harbours over 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world's rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx.

    WWF is still campaigning for zero elephant poaching in Selous Game Reserve, one of Africa's largest wilderness areas. In less than 40 years, it's lost about 90 per cent of its elephants.  WWF is calling for the public to join the campaign to achieve zero poaching of elephants in Selous by 2018 and stop industrial scale activities.

    China, home to the world's largest legal ivory trade market announces closure by end of 2017
    In December, China made history by announcing its ban in domestic trade in ivory, committing to closing legal markets by the end of 2017. This ushers in an end to the world's primary legal ivory market and is a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa, where up to 20,000 elephants are taken illegally each year.
     
    ***ends***

    Notes to the Editor:
    Visit at WorldWildlifeDay.org
    *For more information visit our Living Planet Report 2016 at panda.org
    Download images with copyright information included here.

    For more information please contact: Lianne Mason | WWF | lmason@wwf.org.uk | +44 7771818699