mute swan with cygnets, Union Canal, Edinburgh, 2011
Today is World Wildlife Day, the date chosen to mark the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The theme this year is “Listen to the Young Voices.”
Young people are often considered not to be connected with nature as they spend so much time sitting with the computer or playing on mobile devices and not getting outdoors. However, it seems to me that a lot of young people are concerned about environmental issues and they are very interested in the natural world if they're encouraged to experience the great outdoors! Many organisations take school groups outdoors - including the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, whose Education Officer regularly takes groups of children out into the wooded Dells along the river for river dipping and other activities.
There are many wonderful television programmes about wildlife, but many of them focus on the wildlife of faraway places and give a sense that it's only in those places where the wildlife and nature is worth learning about. In the UK, Springwatch and related programmes are great for focussing on UK wildlife and even better in that they encourage viewers to get outdoors and to take part in wildlife surveys and to do things to help their local wildlife.
Whatever your age, though, the best way to enjoy and learn about wildlife is to get out there (if you can) in your local area! If you are observant and pay attention, there's a lot to be seen, whether it's a beautiful moss growing in a wall or the ducks in your local pond.
There are events happening across the world to mark World Wildlife Day. Find out what's happening near you here.