We look at the ways in which digital is being used to benefit animal rescue, wildlife, and conservation charities
World Wildlife Day takes place on Wednesday 3 March 2021. The 2021 campaign focuses on the interconnectedness of forests with a multitude of animal species and human communities.
Organisations and individuals involved in supporting the campaign have been working to digitise the keystone event: a film festival showcasing the role of forest-dwelling species and their ecosystems.
CITES, UNDP, and Jackon Wild are teaming up to support virtual screenings of shortlisted films. On 3 March 2021, from 13:00-16:00 UK time, the organisations will be hosting a YouTube Live to announce the winners.
The work of wildlife and conservation charities has translated well online, particularly on social media. Image and video-based platforms like Instagram are particularly important for charities like WWF International, which has one of the largest followings among non-profits with more than 2.6 million followers.
A decade ago, Thought Catalog named the humble domestic cat the “unofficial mascot of the internet,” a belief that Cats Protection capitalised on in the opening gambit of their Twitter profile, #HereForTheCats.
Cats Protection have been through the process of developing virtual events for their supporters. In homage to their feline beneficiaries, they created the ‘Climb for Cats’ series.
Supporters were encouraged to undertake virtual climbs of the UK’s highest peaks and raise funds throughout January to ‘get on top of 2021,’ gaining a sense of community online via fitness app Strava’s club system.
Not to be outdone by Team Cat, Team Dog, represented in this case by PDSA, has met the need for positive news online with the story of Max the Dog.
Max is a 13-year-old Springer Spaniel who has been awarded the pet equivalent of an OBE, an order of merit. Through his Facebook Page, Max Out in the Lake District, he has provided virtual therapy for thousands of people across the globe as they joined him and owner Kerry for daily walks via Facebook Live.
The page now has more than 200,000 followers and an online shop for all your Max merch needs.
As the 2021 World Wildlife Day theme emphasises, wildlife and their natural environments are co-dependent. Education on these unique habitats and eco-systems across the globe is a key element of the conservation movement.
In Dorset, for example, the Dorset Wildlife Trust champions nature and wildlife across 42 conservation areas with a team of 26,000 volunteers. With reduced ability to organise educational tours and events in situ, they have created Google tours to showcase the habitats in their care – including Brownsea Island, the last bastion of the red squirrel.
After a hard-fought battle, the Trust is also using the return of the beaver to Dorset to grow their mailing list in a way that recognises the value of owned media. In February 2021, a breeding pair of beavers were introduced to a suitable area in Dorset and their impact on the local environment will be studied closely.
The beavers have their own homepage banner and landing page on the Dorset Wildlife Trust website. The landing page includes multiple prompts to join the mailing list for ‘beaver updates straight to your inbox’.
The beavers are an experiment in the conservation approach referred to as ‘re-wilding,’ which is championed in the UK by the charity, Re-Wilding Britain.
Rewilding involves the large-scale restoration of nature until an equilibrium is found and nature can take care of itself. Having recently re-branded, Re-wilding Britain is taking advantage of the sharp rise in the importance of e-commerce as an income stream.
Their online shop boasts a range of branded items including t-shirts and tote bags with the slogans ‘born to rewild,’ ‘think big, act wild’ or for kids, ‘rewild child.’
Forests and woodlands cover nearly a third of the planet and are vital to our climate and vast numbers of flora and fauna, some yet to be discovered. In the developing world, tropical forests and savannahs are also home to 800 million people.
A single mature oak tree can support up to 280 different species of insects, as well as absorbing up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year.
Organisations like ‘Trees for Cities’ are vital in bringing about the rebalancing of nature to benefit wildlife. They digitally track the number of trees planted since their inception in 1993 to update a counter on the home page of their site. At the time of writing, 1,117, 819 trees planted.
In the animal rescue and conservation movements, the ones and zeros of the digital world support fundraising, communications and service delivery, protecting the habitats and animals of many domestic and natural environments.