On this International Day, think about how war could affect your environment

IFAW's Dr.RymZakhama packing medicines.“As we mark this International Day, let us recognise the wide-ranging and long-term consequences of damaging the environment...in times of war.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 6 Nov 2011.

It seems obvious that during times of conflict, loss is measured in terms of human casualties and destruction of infrastructure.  Yet it is the environment that often remains the forgotten victim – after all, through actions taken to overcome an enemy, forests are often destroyed, water sources are polluted and animals are caught in the crossfire.

The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict held annually on 6 November. It raises awareness of the effect conflict has on a nations’ natural resources and wildlife. 

It’s ironic that wars start of the desire to control the natural resources that end up destroyed in the process.

Let’s just review three recent examples:

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Since 1998, this war has damaged the habitats of many endangered species such as gorillas and elephants.  Gorillas have been hunted for meat, while elephants are slaughtered for their ivory, to help further fund fighting.


  • Not only has the human toll been high during fighting, but snow leopards have been victims.  It is now estimated there may be less than 100 of these big cats left in Afghanistan.


  • In 2006, the endangered green sea turtle population suffered when attacks on Lebanon caused damage to oil storage tanks, leaking approximately 20,000 tonnes of oil into the Mediterranean Sea.

So, on this important day, think about how a terrible occurrence such as war would affect the environments, flora and fauna you love.

We want to thank our International Fund for Animal Welfare colleagues for the work undertaken in Libya during attacks on the nation’s capital, Tripoli.

As a result of constant bombing, the city’s zoo sustained major damage, leaving animals trapped with no access to food or water.

IFAW was the first organisation to respond, funding the purchase of food and supplies and assisting zoo keepers to calm and care for the animals.

Through advocacy or donations, you can help IFAW continue its vital work and reduce the unnecessary suffering of animals worldwide.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime