IN THE NEWS: MARCH 3RD IS WORLD WILDLIFE DAY: WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET KIDS INVOLVED
March 3rd marks World Wildlife Day, first proclaimed by the United Nations in 2013. It’s a day to celebrate the beauty and wonder of the world’s wild animals and plants, as well as raise awareness of critically endangered species of wild flora and fauna. This year’s theme focuses on how to recover key species, restore ecosystems and discusses solutions to conserve them.
What is a key species? Key species – or keystone species - have a big impact on their environment and affect everything in their ecosystem. They cannot be replaced by another species, and if they aren’t there, the ecosystem will be irrevocably altered - or even disappear. In Canada, examples of key species are beavers, wolves, snowshoe hares, bees, grizzly bears, sea otters, starfish, woodpeckers and bats.
Worldwide, more than 8,400 species of wild flora and fauna are critically endangered, with another 30,000 considered to be endangered or vulnerable. More than 1,000,000 species are potentially threatened with extinction. The continued loss of species, habitats and ecosystems threatens all life on Earth, including humans. It is vital that we reverse the fate of these species by restoring habitats and ecosystems and promoting sustainable use by humans.
World Wildlife Day is a chance to think about what the plants and animals we share this Earth with do for us – and what we should do for them. It’s also a time to celebrate those who are working to re-establish the natural balance between species.
While government-led policies are key, some of the most important work happens at a grassroots level, by people and organizations who have dedicated themselves to local issues and projects. This is a day to appreciate these champions and learn about the work they are doing. The Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) has teamed up with Jackson Wild to feature an international film festival, highlighting films that explore threats to wild fauna and flora, their importance for their ecosystems and for the communities who live near them, and the numerous initiatives underway to conserve them. You can watch the winning entries here.
How can you and your kids get involved? There are many activities that help children learn about wildlife and the importance of preserving ecosystems, such as:
- visiting an animal shelter, wildlife recovery centre or national or provincial park to learn about species in the area
- reading a book about a favourite animal
- building a habitat diorama by decorating a shoebox to showcase a special animal in its habitat
- designing a poster encouraging eco-friendly practices
- creating a nature journal of the birds, animals and plants around them
- collecting trash around the neighbourhood
Wildlife Preservation Canada has downloadable colouring pages and fact sheets about 6 Canadian species here. Nature Canada offers information about the Canada Warbler, Olive Clubtail Dragonfly and Vancouver Island Marmot along with educational activities here. Envirokidz also has some colouring pages here.
Thinkamajigs offers a curated selection of books and toys to feed your child’s curiosity about animals and spark their imagination, all while expanding their knowledge and skills on our website. You can also contact us at 1-800-363-3013 or by clicking here.