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58%. That's the percentage of wildlife that has been lost to the world in just the last 40 years . Much of this loss is due to big-picture issues, like climate change, deforestation, and pollution, which you may be aware of and act on already. But a lot of it is due to poachers, a relatively small proportion of humanity who put personal profit over every value we law-abiding citizens hold dear.
The illegal wildlife trade is now constantly in the news. The vaquita is nearly extinct because they are bycatch for poachers looking to sell fish bladders worth more than crack cocaine on the black market. The African elephant population has been decimated by half since the 1970s to fuel the illegal trade in ivory. Pangolins are falling prey to poachers who sell their scales, made of the same material as our fingernails, to misinformed people who believe they cure everything.
Now poachers are reaping so much profit that they are targeting not only vulnerable wildlife struggling to survive in their native habitat, but also valuable animals in zoos and sanctuaries. In February of 2017, the caretakers at a rhino orphanage in South Africa were assaulted and held hostage while poachers brutally killed two baby rhinos and stole their horns . In March of 2017, poachers brazenly shot a beloved white rhino in the Paris zoo to steal and sell its horn . In June of 2017, poachers infiltrated the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, killing two elderly lions rescued from an abusive circus .
It has to stop. Fighting the illegal wildlife trade that is leading to so many extinctions begins right here, with you and me. Take the pledge to change the world now, because we're running out of time.
In honor of the many innocent victims of poaching, I pledge to: