By Emily VanCamp
I have always loved animals. Growing up in a rural area near Ontario, Canada, I learned to appreciate and respect the wildlife around me. My sisters and I would play outside for hours, just exploring and witnessing the wonders of the natural world.
Today, on this World Environment Day, a day that celebrates all the courageous and positive environmental actions taking place around the world, I stop to reflect on what being an environmentalist means to me.
Now that I'm older, I know that the world's most iconic and beloved species and beautiful, awe-inspiring places are in jeopardy.
And I am using that knowledge and understanding to fight to see change on a more global level.
I recently became involved with World Wildlife Fund -- an organization that fights for what I love and believe in and one that I've been excited to work with for a while now. Earlier this year I helped launch the "Hands Off My Parts" initiative -- an effort tied to WWF's Stop Wildlife Crime campaign to raise awareness and mobilize support to end the illegal trade of wildlife.
Poaching has reached epic proportions. Rhinos, tigers, and elephants are being killed at alarming rates for their skins, bones, tusks, horns and other body parts. In South Africa alone, at least one rhino a day is killed for its horn (and at the time of publication, already 367 have been poached this year -- on pace to exceed 800 by year's end). Sixty two percent of the world's forest elephants have been killed in the past 10 years for their tusks, and as few as 3,200 wild tigers exist on the planet because we exploit them for their parts. More....