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Why we protect wildlife

Animals and plants aren’t just valuable for their own sake – they’re also part of a wider natural environment that may provide food, shelter, water, and other functions, for other wildlife and people.

With so much wildlife at risk, the question people often ask us is how do we decide which animals and plants to focus our conservation efforts and funds on? Well, it’s not always an easy decision… but we do have criteria to guide us.

For example: 1) is it a species that’s a vital part of a food chain? Or 2) a species that helps demonstrate broader conservation needs? Or 3) is it an important cultural icon that will garner support for wildlife conservation as a whole? These are just some of the considerations.

More about giant pandas
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Conservation in action

Over the past five decades, our field work has helped bring several iconic animals back from the brink of extinction – including white and greater one-horned rhinos, certain populations of African elephants, mountain gorillas, giant pandas and tigers.

We’ve also achieved important policy changes – for instance: helping bring about the global moratorium on commercial whaling; improving controls for trade in threatened species such as tigers; and regulating trade in over used trees, like mahogany, and fish such as sturgeons (caught for caviar).

Our work hasn’t just given a more certain future for specific wildlife, but has helped thousands more species by contributing to the conservation of all the diversity of life within their environments.

Our wildlife conservation efforts are also directly helping people, through improved livelihoods, food security, access to fresh water, incomes, and by strengthening communities, socially and politically.

The work we do is playing a part in at least five of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and contributing to poverty reduction in several parts of the world.