World Wildlife Day: Protecting the natural world

World Wildlife Day: Protecting the natural world

In the intricate web of the natural world, every living being plays a crucial role, from the minute insects to the majestic mammals. Yet, all too frequently, we find this delicate balance disrupted. Small actions can cause devastating consequences, with our wildlife paying the price. Whether it's deforestation, pollution, or other human-induced disruptions, the repercussions resonate across the animal kingdom. 

Image credit: Heather Anholt

World Wildlife Day takes place on the 3rd of March each year and is a celebration of all wildlife, aiming to inspire people to connect with, and take action to protect, the natural world.   

At Worldwide Veterinary Service, we’re here for any species that needs our help. Embracing the One Health concept, we’re working to protect people, wildlife, pets, and all creatures, on global scale. The veterinary care we provide does far more than treat injuries and disease, it prevents ecosystems being disrupted, diseases being introduced, and stops habitats becoming overwhelmed and overpopulated. 

Continue reading to learn more about some of our projects around the world, and ways you can get involved to protect wildlife.   

Deploying veterinary teams to support with the rescue, treatment, and rehabilitation of wildlife  

We send teams of veterinary professionals all around the world to provide veterinary treatment and care in places where it is extremely limited or even non-existent. Every year, we are joined by passionate individuals, both veterinary and non-veterinary, who join our mission to make an impact and improve animal welfare worldwide.  

WVS volunteers, Anna Schumann and Edric Cross, supported conversation efforts in the Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi: 

“Between us we have visited Africa on many occasions and visited many reserves. We have had plenty of memorable encounters, both in vehicles and on foot, but it is safe to say that this experience has eclipsed them all.” 

Vet, Ellie Shelburne, gave her time to volunteer with one of our partner charities, the Karumbé Sea Turtle Project in Uruguay: 

“My two weeks were packed full of adventure and a lot of hard work. My typical day involved giving IV fluids to a loggerhead, doing a necropsy to determine that a hawksbill turtle did die of drowning (likely from getting caught in a fisherman’s net), helping my friend Nati do her research which involved flying drones over the ocean to count the numbers of turtles, collecting algae from the rocks along the shore for feeding and even drawing blood from a penguin! Perhaps my favourite activity was releasing tagged turtles back to the ocean, knowing they can live over 80 years and swim huge distances, to Africa, the United States and back to Uruguay. I came away with many memories and a renewed awareness of how many of the things we do can affect the earth and all it’s creatures.” 

Volunteers can offer a helping hand to wildlife in many incredible places around the world, whether at a WVS project or with one of our brilliant partner organisations. Here, you can browse all volunteering opportunities, filtering them by location, animal, or your experience. This is a wonderful way to make a lasting impact for wildlife, giving your time, compassion, and expertise to change lives.  

Protecting the wildlife of Angochagua, Ecuador 

The parish of Angochagua remains an important area for the conservation of wildlife species such as the Spectacled Bear. During 2023, we expanded our work into the rural communities of the Ecuadorian Andes, working to create healthier animal populations, improve animal welfare, and reduce conflict between domesticated species and wildlife.  

Image credit: Fundación Cóndor Andino Ecuador (FCA)

In October, we ran a one week surgical and clinical training camp with Ecuadorian veterinary students, working in collaboration with Fundación Cóndor Andino Ecuador (FCA) and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Fifteen students received training in international standards of surgery, anaesthesia, and animal health, with animal welfare as the main priority. 

We are returning to Angochagua in April and November of 2024, and we’re currently recruiting vet and vet nurse volunteers to join us for this extremely worthwhile project. Learn more and apply.  

Conservation through the management of domesticated species in the Galápagos 

Known for their diverse wildlife and unique habitats, the Galápagos Islands are an awe-inspiring display of the beauty of the natural world. From tortoises to seals, iguanas to flamingos, all types of wildlife live side by side. But sadly, the Galápagos’ enchanting wildlife is under threat.  

In recent years, the numbers of cats and dogs on the islands have dramatically increased. As these companion animals breed, they will often roam further afield, unwittingly threatening the delicate ecosystems they live amongst. They can also bring diseases and parasites that the endemic wildlife has no immunity to, such as Canine Distemper Virus (CDV).  

Image credit: Dr Ben Howitt

And it is not just the native wildlife that is suffering, the dogs and cats on the island need support and access to veterinary care. Our vets are in the Galápagos Islands to treat and sterilise local cats and dogs, and help restore the balance of nature.  

Aid for charities and organisations treating wildlife worldwide 

All around the world there are organisations in need of veterinary supplies and equipment to alleviate the suffering of animals. We send aid parcels to frontline teams around the world, treating all different species of all shapes and sizes. In 2023 alone, we shipped 854 parcels to over 206 charities in 66 different countries – the contents of these parcels equate to over £370,000.  

A wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release centre based in Peru, Amazon Shelter, were in urgent need of an ultrasound machine to assist with their work of treating wildlife; 

"The new Edan portable ultrasound machine donated by WVS will be a great help to Amazon Shelter, allowing us to perform regular scans on our animals to monitor their health and to have better diagnostic skills when treating sick animals. It will also help us to give a comprehensive medical assessment for all new animals to determine their state of internal health, which will allow us to treat them with special care and prevent early mortality from prior conditions." – Amazon Shelter 

Image credit: Amazon Shelter, Peru

In Zambia, veterinary supplies were sent to Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust to help with rehabilitation of chimpanzees and other wildlife; 

“The challenges we face in providing adequate care for chimpanzees are many, but the support of WVS eases the burden considerably. From medicines to specialist equipment, donations from WVS enable our dedicated team to treat ailments, carry out health checks on our 150 chimpanzees and other wildlife, treat injuries... and also provide the equipment needed to protect staff during procedures or outbreaks. On behalf of the chimpanzees and our entire sanctuary, we express our deepest gratitude for the unwavering support of WVS, for without WVS's support, the care and preservation of these remarkable species would be an even greater challenge.’ - Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust  

Image credit: Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust, Zambia 

Expert care and compassion when disaster hits 

In February 2023, Cyclone Freddy unleashed devastation upon Malawi, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Severe flooding and landslides resulted in the burial of homes, the sweeping away of roads, and the displacement of thousands of people. The toll extended beyond the human population, as countless animals also faced the brunt of the storm. Many endured injuries and illnesses, transforming the aftermath into a challenging ordeal for both human and animal inhabitants alike.  

Our team based in Blantyre offered emergency treatment and care to for any injured pets, livestock, and wildlife, but it was not just the initial injuries that needed to be treated. The floodwaters resulted in an increased risk of disease, trapped livestock, and a limited supply of food. To help stop the spread of disease, and support the communities that rely on them, our veterinary team also provided treatments including protection against deadly parasites.  

This vulture was one of many animals requiring urgent veterinary attention after the storm. Just a few days after the cyclone made landfall in Malawi, our team on the ground received a call about a very weak, juvenile white backed vulture. Sadly, their numbers have been declining rapidly and they are very often killed by poachers as they see them as ‘alarm bells’ for anti-poaching forces. This vulture was found soaking wet, cold, and lethargic, lying on the ground. After prolonged rain and a storm such as this, these birds can quickly lose condition and energy, becoming unable to take off and seek out food. Our expert veterinary team brought the vulture back to the clinic where we warmed him up and administered fluids. Thankfully, he started eating within a few hours and recovered very well over the days that followed.  

We are hugely grateful to all those who supported our emergency appeal, enabling us to provide expert veterinary care to more than 3,000 animals following the cyclone. 

How you can help treat more wildlife  

  • Volunteer at a wildlife project abroad: View all our current volunteering opportunities around the world, read our FAQs, and get started on planning the adventure of lifetime where you’ll be helping animals in places where no one else can! 

  • Donate to help wildlife in need: Donate today and you can protect wildlife around the world, by helping to treat injuries, supply life-saving equipment and prevent the spread of disease. 

  • Spread the word: Raising awareness about wildlife conservation and ensuring access to veterinary care is crucial. Share information about our work with friends and family to help to create a brighter tomorrow for animals, people, and the planet.  

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