The following list of 12 Ways You Can Help Wildlife has been collated by Artist, Jane Lee McCracken for Where Did All the Animals Go? exhibition and the Endangered Species Conference, 22 June 2019, at Thought Foundation with contributions from Jane, Will Travers OBE, President and Co-Founder Born Free, Dr Melvin Gumal, Director WCS Malaysia, PC Peter Baker, Wildlife Crime Officer, Northumbria Police, Laura Gosset, Head of Education and David Bolton, Education Officer, Born Free Foundation. The list has been created in response to the fact that humanity needs wildlife in order to survive. The release of the United Nations IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) survey findings on 6 May 2019 states that over one million species are now under threat of extinction. There is hope for vulnerable wildlife if we act now.
1. LOOK after your own back yard! Looking after local environments can help biodiversity flourish, no matter where we live. Providing feeding stations for pollinators such as bees, by planting native pollinator-friendly plants in your garden, plant pots or window boxes can help increase their chances of survival. Pollinators are essential to the plant reproduction of one third of the world’s food production, yet pollinator populations are decreasing at an alarming rate. Even coffee, potatoes, chocolate and cotton are reliant on insect pollination. If you don’t have access to a garden or yard, join a local group that encourages pollinator planting of urban areas or write to your local council to encourage native wildflower planting on roundabouts, roadsides and in parks. DON’T use pesticides as they kill pollinators and insects which other wildlife are dependent on. For this project Suzanne Stanley of the conservation charity Plant Heritage North East has put together a list of year-round plants for pollinators in the UK. Read Suzanne’s plant list here: www.janeleemccracken.co.uk/blogs/where-did-all-the-animals-go/12-easy-wildlife-friendly-plant
2. GO OUT and walk amongst nature in your local area. “Walk in forests, in peat bogs, in nature somewhere. Breathe in nature’s wonders and touch the clear waters that filter the air that we breathe. Many of us have lost sight of nature, thinking it comes in a box. It is tangible. It is just that we have forgotten how much of life nature gives us, which we take for granted. Nature is central to all our lives.” Dr Melvin Gumal, Director WCS Malaysia
3. REDUCE CONSUMPTION. Humans are mainly responsible for the destruction of the natural world through overpopulation and overconsumption. It’s often challenging to change the way we live and avoid things we have grown reliant upon but small adjustments in life choices such as not buying so many items we don’t need can lead to big positive impacts in the use of land and curbing habitat destruction, one of the biggest threats to the natural world. Becoming less materialistic means asking yourself if you really need something or if you can get by without it. Giving gifts of pre-loved objects, family heirlooms or sustainable things you’ve created yourself, to friends and family is more meaningful than encouraging more plastic items to be manufactured.
4. RECYCLE paper and other recyclables as much as possible. Use LESS water and energy. Simple changes like turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, having showers instead of baths, making sure lights, chargers and electronics on standby are switched off when not being used reduces energy consumption. Not using your washing machine on a daily basis and washing at 30° also helps to reduce consumption and bills. WALK more, drive less. Making fewer car journeys is key to reducing the effects of the climate emergency. Encourage friends and family to make fewer car journeys. Try not to buy as many things made of plastic including single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, food packaging and water or juice bottles. Dropping litter also adds to pollution and can kill both wildlife and domestic animals.
5. CHOOSE products that are sustainably and ethically sourced. Look for special labels on the packaging, such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. Try to avoid buying products containing unsustainable palm oil, as it is one of the greatest threats to rainforests and species like orangutans. Palm oil is in a lot of food products such as biscuits, chocolate and cosmetics – you can check labels when you’re shopping. Write to supermarkets urging them to ban products with unsustainable palm oil, using less plastic packaging and providing in-store recycle bins for depositing card packaging before you leave the store.
6. CHANGE your priorities. The climate emergency and wildlife extinctions are a fact. Human reliance on nature for our own survival is a fact. The findings of the UN IPBES report affect every one of us. The responsibility of what our species has created comes down to all of us. It is NOT the responsibility of scientists and conservationists alone to mop up our collective mess. If we want our planet and humanity to survive, collective responsibility has to be taken across society.
7. TELL others about what you have learnt from the exhibition and conference, why wildlife is threatened, why we need wildlife and what we can do to help wildlife. Education is the key to change. LEARN more about endangered species by watching nature programmes. Word of mouth has been an effective tool of learning for humans over millennia, helping create the contemporary society we live in. Social media is also an effective way of spreading the word. FOLLOW reputable wildlife conservation organisations and re-post their posts about vulnerable wildlife, voicing your own concerns. Becoming a member of conservation organisations such as Born Free Foundation also affirms your support and concerns for wildlife to those around you.
8. CONTACT your local MP and voice your concerns about the climate emergency, the result of the UN IPBES survey findings and the illegal wildlife trade such as the ivory trade and wildlife trafficking. Ask them to raise these issues in parliament. If more of us openly show concern for the environment global governments are more likely to make positive changes. Here is a link with helpful information about how to contact your MP www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
9. TAKE ACTION by signing wildlife and nature-related petitions on reputable sites such as www.change.org and www.care2.com. A petition can be effective and successful in changing legislation.
10. REPORT wildlife crime. Wildlife crime encompasses many types of crimes. Crimes such as hare coursing, lamping, badger baiting and the poisoning of wildlife such as birds of prey continue locally while wildlife trafficking of endangered species for the pet trade or species body parts for the use in traditional medicines and for decoration continue nationally and globally. If you witness a crime in action against wildlife in this country dial 999 to report it to the police. For all other wildlife crime enquiries dial 101. If you are abroad, either contact the local authorities or the embassy of your home country. You can also contact a conservation organisation involved in the conservation of particular species for advice as to what to do. Conservation organisations often rely on tourists to relay information about wildlife crimes across the world. “People tend to ignore wildlife crime thinking the police won’t do anything but people who commit wildlife crime are often involved in other types of crime so we must report crimes against wildlife.” PC Peter Baker, Northumbria Police Wildlife Crime Unit
11. Think about the INDIVIDUALS; “individual animals, individual species, habitats and ecosystems and the need for their support and protection. Each individual in a population matters, each with its own desires and needs and a capacity to suffer. Compassionate conservation policies and practices should fully take into account the welfare of individuals in efforts to secure the long term future of species and their habitats.” Laura Gosset, Head of Education and David Bolton Education Officer, Born Free Foundation
12. ADOPT an animal! “Choose from an elephant to an Ethiopian wolf and support the care of individual wild animals or their families around the world.www.bornfree.org.uk/adopt” Will Travers OBE, President and Co-Founder Born Free.
A free printed leaflet of 12 Ways You Can Help Wildlife is available from Thought Foundation during the exhibition