Celebrating Wildlife Conservation Day: The Critical Role of Biodiversity

World Wildlife Conservation Day

December 4th marks Wildlife Conservation Day. This day was created in 2012 by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise awareness of issues including wildlife extinction, endangerment and global wildlife trafficking and poaching and to promote the protection of the decreasing numbers of wildlife species across the globe.

The world is losing wildlife species at an alarming rate. Based on the WWF Living Planet Report 2022, in 48 years, between 1970 and 2018, there has been an average 69% decline in the relative abundance of monitored wildlife populations around the world. In addition, based on a 2019 UN study, approximately additional one million animal and plant species are now facing extinction in the coming decades.

With so much of our wildlife at risk of extinction, our fragile ecosystems need protection more than ever. There are mainly two strategies of conservation – in situ conservation and ex situ conservation. The process of protecting an endangered plant or animal species in its natural habitat such as National Parks is commonly known as in situ conservation. On the other hand, ex situ conservation is the relocation of endangered or rare species from their natural habitats to protected areas equipped for their protection and preservation and an example would be of zoological parks.

However, at the heart of effective wildlife conservation practices, lies the fundamental concept of biodiversity.

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Biodiversity is the foundation upon which ecosystems thrive. Defined by WWF as different kinds of life you will find in one area – the variety of animals, plants, fungi and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. It also refers to how different species interact with each other in these ecosystems. From lush rainforests to expansive coral reefs, the variety of species within an ecosystem contributes to its resilience and functionality. Each organism, no matter how small, plays a unique role in maintaining the balance of nature.

Biodiversity is therefore important as a key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. In every ecosystem, species rely on each other, for example – plants undergo photosynthesis and provide oxygen, bees and other insects play an important role for pollination of plants, predators keep herbivore populations under control, humans reliant on agriculture crops that provide food, feed, fuel and fibre and so on. When species start to go extinct — whether it’s apex predators or the fungi that decompose dead material—the system of checks and balances begins to go awry.

Biodiversity in action

Take the example of the role of bees in the most fundamental ecological processes – pollination of plants to produce fruits and vegetables. Let’s talk specifically about the growing of Almonds as a case study. 

Biodiversity Almond

As bees move from tree to tree, they pollinate almond blossoms. In fact, every almond we eat exists because a honeybee pollinated an almond blossom, so they’re an essential partner for almond farmers. On the flip side, bees also benefit from the nutritional resources provided by almond trees. Almonds are high in protein, and the bees can use this protein to produce more robust colonies leading to healthier bees. Most recently in 2022, there was a Varroa mite infestation in Australia which decimated the bee population. The mites feed on the bees and affect bees’ ability to fly, pollinate crops and gather food and in certain cases, mites also carry over viruses which is devastating to bee colonies. This has since resulted in more than 30,000 beehives (each beehive depending on size, has between 20,000 – 80,000 bees) being euthanized or destroyed. This has also impacted farmers significantly. Due to the dwindling supply of bees, cost of renting beehives have increased significantly. Farmers also could not stock the optimal amount of bee hives for their almond orchards during the flowering season due to a lack of supply. As a result, crop yields are expected to reduce significantly. All these changes will eventually lead to steeper food prices.

Biodiversity is critical in maintaining an ecosystem’s web of interconnectedness, maintaining healthy ecosystems, and supporting human life. Trees, bushes and wetlands and wild grasslands naturally slow down water and help soil to absorb rainfall. When they are removed it can increase flooding. Trees and other plants clean the air we breathe and help us tackle the global challenge of climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide. When water passes through lakes and streams, it encounters various microbes such as algae and fungi, which help filter microscopic particles out of the water and improve water quality. Coral reefs and mangrove forests act as natural defenses protecting coastlines from waves and storms. Healthy and diverse ecosystems contribute to air and water purification, climate regulation and extreme weather prevention. These wetlands, grasslands and corals & mangroves also provide habitat for numerous wildlife (and organisms) both above and below ground as well.


As we celebrate Wildlife Conservation Day, let us recognize the critical interplay between biodiversity and successful conservation. Let us commit to preserving biodiversity, recognizing its importance not only for the countless species that share our planet but for the well-being of humanity and the health of the Earth itself. Through collective efforts and a deep appreciation for biodiversity, we can ensure a sustainable and harmonious future for all living beings.