World Wildlife Day
World Wildlife Day is annually commemorated on 3rd March. This day celebrates the diversity of wild flora and fauna as well as the benefits they provide for people. The contribution of wildlife to human well-being and sustainable development is far-reaching as it contributes to ecological, scientific, social, genetic, cultural, educational, recreational and aesthetic aspects of society. Illegal wildlife trade and other forms of wildlife crime, negatively impact our societies. Therefore, World Wildlife Day aims to raise awareness of the need to conserve wildlife not only for their benefit but also for the benefit of human societies and the environment.
World Wildlife Day 2018 is being celebrated under the theme: “Big cats. Predators under threat”
This year’s theme for World Wildlife Day is important because the populations of lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, pumas, etc. have been declining at an alarming rate. This decline is due to the loss of their habitat and prey, poaching, illegal trade and conflicts with people.
Saint Lucia does not have any big cat populations, however the issues affecting big cats are similar to issues which put pressure on some of the island’s endemic species. For example, the Saint Lucia Iguana, the Saint Lucia Racer, the Fer-de-Lance, the Saint Lucia Whiptail, the Saint Lucia Mullet, the Amazona versicolor and the Leatherback turtle. These animals have been killed or captured and some have become endangered. One extinct Saint Lucian endemic species is the Saint Lucia Giant Rice Rat (Megalomys luciae), which is reported to have become extinct during the nineteenth century due to the introduction of mongoose to the island. Some of Saint Lucia’s endemic species are currently endangered and if left unchecked, they could become extinct like the Giant Rice Rat. Fortunately, Saint Lucians still have a chance to preserve some of their endemic species, and while celebrating World Wildlife Day, are encouraged to make a special effort to do so.
The list of protected and partially protected species in Saint Lucia can be found in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1980. This Act makes provisions for the protection, conservation and management of wildlife in Saint Lucia.