GEORGETOWN,The U.S. Embassy brought together leaders of the World Wildlife Fund Guianas and the Guyana Wildlife Division with faculty and students from the University of Guyana to celebrate World Wildlife Day, the mission said in a statement.
World Wildlife Day is celebrated annually in March throughout the world to raise awareness of issues relating to the protection of plants and animals. Chargé d’Affaires Bryan Hunt welcomed the group and encouraged a spirited and fruitful discussion on the issue of wildlife trafficking, which “threatens our security, the environment, human health, and sustainable economic development.”
Patrick Williams, Country Manager for WWF Guyana, spoke about the importance of collaboration among members of the public and private sectors to protect not only animals, but plants as well. He referred to Guyana’s plants and animals as “national treasures” that should be protected from poachers and traders.
The U.S. Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Officer Jeff Barrus shared President Obama’s National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking. The strategy aims to strengthen global enforcement, reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife in the U.S. and abroad, and to strengthen partnerships with local communities, non-governmental organizations, private industry, and others to combat wildlife poaching and trade. Barrus also referred to Guyana’s abundant, unique, and spectacular wildlife that sets it apart from much of the world, including the magnificent jaguar, giant anteaters, river otters, and special birds like the Scarlet Macaw and the Toco Toucan.
UG third and fourth year students from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Natural Sciences Department raised interested issues such as trying to balance the need for sustenance in some regions with wildlife protection. Other students encouraged greater coordination of activities between the WWF, government, academia, and private sector entities.