Last updated on May 13th, 2020; Published on April 22nd, 2019

Happy Easter Monday Everyone! Today also happens to be Earth Day, so, Happy Earth Day too!

I thought about whether I wanted to write a post about this today, seeing as Earth Day should be ‘celebrated’ every day. Then, there’s also the fact that I’m Nigerian and frankly speaking, I think I’m not in the best place to talk about saving our planet. But alas, here we are.

I found out about Earth Day last year, mostly thanks to Instagram. The aim of the event then was to raise awareness to end plastic pollution. This year, the theme is ‘Protect our Species‘ and the aim, among others, is to educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

To begin, I’m going to relay some depressing facts about the species on our planet I recently read about;

Earth Day 2019_Protect Our Species

FACT: Our big cats, including tigers, leopards, and cheetahs are in critical decline, and many will become extinct in the next decade. The world’s cats are exploited for their body parts and skins. China remains the world’s largest market for these critically endangered species along with the black rhino and other species – Fact Sheet

Kruger Giraffe

FACT: We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet. – Fact Sheet

Lake Manyara Tanzania Bird

FACT: 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline, and 1 in 8 is threatened with global extinction – Fact Sheet

Now is the best time to act! It can get overwhelming and perhaps depressing thinking of how much work has to be done to reverse this trend.

Personally, I feel defeated when I see the level of pollution in the city I live in; when I see people toss plastic bottles out their car windows; when I read about elephants being poached in Omo Forest Reserve or an entire gorilla family slaughtered for bushmeat in Cross River. It’s hard to feel like your actions are changing anything. After all, what is one right in 190 million wrongs?

Crossriver Gorilla

Nevertheless, the situation reminds me of this quote,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

So, here are small thoughtful things we can do to make big changes and help protect our species…

  • Donate to conservation efforts in your community – I am donating to the Wildlife Conservation Society You can click on the link to do the same.
  • Plant a tree or grow a garden
  • Stop the use of single-use plastics – I will pitch against the use of disposable plastic cups in my organization
  • Go shopping with a reusable bag
  • Reduce your meat intake (especially bushmeat)
  • Become a more responsible traveller – don’t patronize establishments that exploit wildlife.
  • Don’t support the trade of illegal wildlife parts
  • Volunteer your time to protect wildlife in your community. Speaking of this, I’ve written to the WCS of Nigeria multiple times asking for pro-bono volunteer opportunities. I’ve got no response so far. If you know someone who works there, please connect me to them.
  • Petition government officials and policymakers to do more to support conservation efforts.
  • Share and help spread awareness by speaking with people in your community and network

Earth Day 2019 Theme

What are your pledges for Earth Day 2019 and Beyond?

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