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Endangered Species Day: Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

To mark World Endangered Species Day, Wild Africa is launching a powerful new PSA campaign series – Once They’re Gone, They’re Gone – created in collaboration with Grey London.

A series of poignant films depicting delicate balloon animals, the campaign highlights the plight of elephants, lions, pangolins and turtles; animals all threatened by poaching, illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict and habitat destruction. Demonstrating the fragility of the dwindling animal populations, each film ends on a grave warning, “once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world – illegally traded for their scales, skin and meat – while studies predict that African lions could be extinct in the wild by 2050. Elephants are threatened by the illegal ivory trade and dwindling wild habitats, while all sea turtles are now recognised as endangered.

Each one of these animals play a critical role in their ecosystem and new studies are beginning to demonstrate the astonishing ways in which many species change the amount of carbon stored in their surroundings – ultimately affecting climate change.

Elephants are important ecosystem “engineers” and disperse life-giving nitrogen and seeds. If the critically endangered forest elephants become extinct, the rainforests of central and west Africa – the second largest rainforest on earth – could lose between 6-9% of their ability to capture atmospheric carbon.

As apex predators, lions manage animal populations and, in turn, influence the condition of grasslands and forests – important repositories for carbon. Pangolins regulate insect populations and improve soil quality while sea turtles are an essential part of the planet’s food web and play a vital role in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans.

Acknowledging World Endangered Species Day is not only in the interest of endangered animals on the brink of extinction. The day should serve as an urgent wake-up call, reminding us that the wellbeing of our wildlife populations is inextricably linked to our own.