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Our 6 favourite highlights over the last 60 years!

Over the past 60 years, WWF has grown from a small group of wildlife enthusiasts to one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. Today, we're working to protect the planet in more than 100 countries on five continents with the support of five million people. As we've developed, our focus has evolved from localised efforts to protect individual habitats and single species, such as the giant panda, to an ambitious strategy to restore biodiversity and achieve sustainable development around the globe. And you have been with us every step of the way. Thank you.

Panda in a tree

Giant Pandas

We’ve been at the heart of panda conservation since 1979. Working with the Chinese government, we've helped to set up a network of panda reserves to protect their bamboo habitat – today, there are 67 reserves covering around 1.4 million hectare. These efforts have really paid off. The panda census in the early 2000s put the population at 1,596, and this had increased to 1,864 at the latest count in 2014. This 17% rise in just a decade was enough for the panda to be officially taken off the list of "Endangered" species.

The challenge we still face

For the panda population to continue to grow, we need to keep up our efforts to protect, restore and reconnect their habitat. That includes making sure the needs of pandas are considered in new infrastructure projects, creating wildlife corridors and supporting local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and alternative sources of fuel so they don't need to disturb the pandas' habitat.

Tiger population

Just 10 years ago, wild tigers were heading towards extinction. From perhaps 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, tiger numbers had hit an all-time low of an estimated 3,200. In 2010, the governments of all 13 tiger-range countries made a "TX2" commitment to double wild tigers by 2022 – the Chinese Year of the Tiger. A global recovery plan followed and WWF, together with individuals, businesses, communities, governments and other conservation partners, have worked tirelessly to turn this grand ambition into reality.

The challenge we still face

Unfortunately, the many historic threats to the tiger, ranging from habitat destruction and fragmentation to the illegal wildlife trade, have not gone away. We know the solutions that can turn things around. More resources to safeguard wildlife in protected areas; stronger laws and enforcement to challenge the illegal wildlife trade; improved resources to stop poaching; and increased education and awareness raising to tackle consumer demand for tiger parts.

Two large tiger cubs playing
Showing the devastation caused by logging in the Amazon rainforest

Amazon - Chiribiquete National Park

In the heart of the Colombian Amazon, Serranía del Chiribiquete National Park is one of the most pristine areas of tropical rainforest on the planet. It's home to almost 3,000 species of animals and plant. Chiribiquete is also vitally important to local indigenous communities, some of whom remain uncontacted or live in voluntary isolation. In 2018, after years of campaigning by WWF and others, the Colombian government increased the size of the national park by more than half. At 4.3 million hectares – the size of Denmark – it's now the largest area of protected rainforest in the world. We're now working with communities, government and other partners to make sure the national park is properly looked after.

The challenge we still face

Every year, an area of forest more than twice the size of Chiribiquete National Park is destroyed. We need to help people better understand the many vital services forests provide to all of us, no matter where we live, from clean water to healthy soils. We need to halt deforestation, better protect and sustainably manage the forests that remain and restore forest landscapes.

Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are found in only two places – the Virunga mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Just over 1,000 remain in the wild but the outlook for these gentle giants looks much brighter than it did a few decades ago. In 1991, we set up the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) with our partners at the African Wildlife Foundation and Flora and Fauna International. And by working together with local communities and the governments of the three countries, we’ve managed to reverse the decline in mountain gorilla numbers.

The challenge we still face

Mountain gorillas are the only great apes whose numbers are increasing. Populations of chimpanzees, bonobos, orang-utans and the other gorilla sub-species are all declining as a result of the actions of their close relative: Homo sapiens. Habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, climate change, invasive species and pollution are the main causes of species decline – and they’re all a result of human actions.

A Mountain gorilla looking straight at the camera
A solitary elephant looking over the plain

Elephants and the illegal wildlife trade

Thanks to the efforts of WWF and many others, international trade in ivory was banned way back in 1989. But many countries continued to sell ivory within their own borders. As the poaching crisis in Africa escalated, we stepped up our efforts to highlight the scale of the problem and we had a major breakthrough at the end of 2016 when China, the world's largest ivory market, announced that it would ban all domestic ivory sales within a year. We anticipate Hong Kong and Singapore, two other major ivory markets in the region, will enact bans in 2021. And other countries like the UK and the US have also imposed ivory bans.

The challenge we still face

Although recent data show a decline in African elephant poaching trends, they are not out of trouble yet and they're far from the only species threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. More action is urgently needed to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. We need increased efforts to convince consumers to reject buying wildlife products, more support for the communities who live alongside endangered wildlife and better targeted efforts to bring global criminal networks to justice.

Belize - Barrier Reef

The barrier reef off the coast of Belize is the largest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. From underwater corals and mangrove forests to sandy "cayes" and the Great Blue Hole, it's one of the wonders of the natural world and a UNESCO natural World Heritage site. The reef is also home to hundreds of species, including sea turtles, dolphins, rays and manatees. So when in 2016 the Belize government announced plans to allow offshore oil exploration close to the reef, we sprang into action. We rallied a massive global outcry. More than 450,000 people signed a petition calling on the government to protect the reef. And it listened. The government announced a permanent ban on oil exploration around the reef. Now we’re working with them to ensure future generations continue to benefit from Belize’s marine treasures.

The challenge we still face

Overfishing, destructive coastal development and pollution from land and sea are all major threats, and we're working around the world to tackle these. But it's climate change that poses the biggest risk. Coral reefs can’t survive if the water temperature is too hot, and we’re already seeing "coral bleaching" across vast areas because of heat stress. At current rates of warming, scientists predict that most coral reefs will die over the next few decades. As well as doing everything we can to limit a global temperature increase, we need to help coral reefs adapt to the impacts of climate change. Through the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative, we're working with communities, governments and other partners to safeguard reefs that have the best chance of surviving in a warming ocean – identifying both on-the-ground and global policy action.

The barrier reef off the coast of Belize