This Thursday 31 May, Tempus is thrilled to be hosting our first ever Tempus Earth Conservation Gala at The Dorchester London in aid of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the world’s leading independent wildlife conservation organisation. Every penny raised from the night’s glamorous proceedings – including a luxury auction, three-course meal and immersive theatre performance from Vox Vanguard – will go towards helping the organisation's pioneering work battling our planet's biggest challenges, including climate change, extinction of endangered species and reducing harmful carbon emissions. But how exactly is the WWF tackling the challenges we face today? Read on for our five favourite facts about this remarkable foundation…
It was in Switzerland in 1961 that 16 of the world's leading conservations founded what is now the world's leading conservation organisation. Environmentalists including Sir Julian Huxley, IUCN vice president Sir Peter Scott and director-general of the British Nature Conservancy E. M. Nicholson, signed a declaration known as the Morges Manifesto, a pledge to taking action against further reduction of the planet's species. The founding document was titled ‘We must save the world’s wildlife, An International Declaration.’ and inside detailed the action that must be taken a result of “harmless wild creatures losing their lives, or their homes, [through] thoughtless and needless destruction.”
Founded in Switzerland in 1961 as the World Wildlife Fund, the WWF has long been at the forefront of fighting legal battles for our most vulnerable species, habitats and communities. But in 2012, the organisation faced a legal battle of its own – against the WWF. That is, the World Wrestling Federation, founded in 1979 and which in the 1990s became a global phenomenon thanks to wrestling stars like Hulk Hogan. Although in 1994 the wrestling federation's parent group agreed that the initials WWF belonged to the charity, it continued to use the WWF logo until a U.K. Court of Appeals ruled in 2002 that the agreement had been breached. Thus, the WWE was born. The WWF itself changed its name to The World Wide Fund for Nature in 1986.
The giant panda featured in WWF's famous logo – a symbol synonymous with animal conservation the world over – was first inspired by a giant panda named Chii-Chii who arrived at London Zoo in 1961, the same year WWF was founded. The very first sketches of the giant panda logo were drawn by British environmentalist and artist Gerald Watterson. WWF Founder Sir Peter Scott said at the time: "We wanted an animal that is beautiful, is endangered, and is loved by many people in the world for its appealing qualities. We also wanted an animal that had an impact in black and white to save money on printing costs."
Today, 85% of WWF's spending is directed toward wildlife conservation, from research projects to creating new habitats for endangered species. Some of these include field work which has helped bring endangered animals included African elephants, mountain gorillas, giant pandas and tigers back from the brink of extinction, working with communities to promote sustainable development – from landscaping in the Amazon, combatting deforestation and overfishing in coastal areas, and creating community banks in West Africa. One of the biggest challenges the WWF faces is climate change, a wholly man-made crisis that contributes to the increase of our temparetures and oceans, leading to devastating effects. 70% of the earth is covered by oceans, but only 4% is designated as protected, and WWF is committed to raising that to 10% by 2020 – launching government partnerships to protect areas of ocean and defending important coastlines from development or degradation. The charity also helped to bring about the global moratorium on commercial whaling, improving controls for trade in threatened species such as tigers, and regulating trade in overused trees like mahogany.
In 2004, WWF and the Chinese government released the most comprehensive study ever conducted of pandas in the wild – and the results were astounding. The study showed that nearly 50% more pandas are living in the wild than previously research suggested, though the animals are still endangered. Similarly, In April 2016, WWF and the Global Tiger Forum made the monumental announcement that the number of wild tigers has increased for the first time in more than 100 years – a testament to the pivotal work they do.