Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Go Wild for Life!!

Each year on 5 June, the United Nations Environment Programme leads World Environment Day, a global celebration recognized by the UN since 1972.

WED focuses on the 'people's day' of caring for the Earth. It is about figuring out what we can do as individuals and communities to take care of the Earth and be agents of change.

Every year, a different country hosts the official celebrations. This year, Angola calls us to "Go Wild for Life". The global theme was chosen because:
The booming illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and driving whole species to the brink of extinction. The killing and smuggling is also undermining economies and ecoystems, fuelling organized crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe.
Wildlife crime endangers iconic elephants, rhinos, tigers, gorillas and sea turtles. In 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, while the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon the same year. Great apes have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, and other countries could quickly follow. Lesser-known victims include helmeted hornbills and pangolins as well as wild orchids and timbers like Rosewood – flowers and timber are also considered wildlife!
Huge efforts to counter the illicit trade - including stronger policies, awareness campaigns and investments in community conservation and law enforcement - have scored some great successes. However, many species remain at risk and it will take a dedicated and sustained effort by each and every one of us to turn the tide.
How can we do it? More people need to understand the damage this illicit business is doing to our environment, livelihoods, communities and security. We must change our habits and behaviour so that demand for illegal wildlife products falls. More awareness and action pushes governments and international bodies to introduce and enforce tougher laws and combat those still willing to break them.
This year’s theme for WED – Go Wild for Life – encourages you to celebrate all those species under threat and take action of your own to help safeguard them for future generations. This can be about animals or plants that are threatened within your local area as well as at the national or global level - many local extinctions will eventually add up to a global extinction! Whoever you are, and wherever you live, show zero-tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife in word and deed, and make a difference.

As we highlighted on Biological Diversity Day and World Wildlife Day, Morocco is blessed with beautiful and abundant animal and plantlife. Sadly, sometimes our 'exotic' ecosystems are threatened by tourists looking to take animals and related souvenirs home. Illegal trading is a problem in the country, especially in our tourist cities like Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca, and Rabat.

Dar Si Hmad echoes the words of UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw, who spoke in Nairobi yesterday. Ibrahim reminds us that we are all connected, that we are also animal life, that our own backyards are homes to other creatures, and that we can make a difference: 

On this World Environment Day - and the other 364 until the next one we need to take professional action to support the global momentum for change in areas like ending the illegal trade in wildlife, but we also need to take personal action to take care of our own backyard.
That's why, even with the best processes, protecting our environment demands the personal commitment of each one of us. There are already so many simple, everyday acts that could so easily improve our environment. Too many computers are left on standby, instead of being switched off; too many disposable coffee cups are used, instead of bringing a mug.
I am Ibrahim - I am an elephant and this is my backyard. Please - help me take care of it. Thank you!

Thank you to everyone working to care for life around the world. Dar Si Hmad applauds and joins you in working to better care for our planet and ourselves. Happy World Environment Day!

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