Go wild! Free educational resources on wildlife

The illegal trade in threatened and endangered species is a $19 billion (USD) per year industry and has put some of our planet’s most majestic species—including elephants, rhinos and tigers—in the crosshairs of extinction. Behind every animal trinket or vial of traditional medicine, there is a tragic and needless death.

Instilling an understanding and respect for animals at an early age is fundamental to protecting animals in years to come. While the challenges are great, students who engage with the issue will discover a sense of purpose and hope.

IFAW’s latest free Animal Action Education resource Keep Wild Animals Wild helps students better appreciate and understand the threats wild animals face from human activities.

The new materials include three sets of age-appropriate lesson plans and worksheets, colorful student magazines, and films. Students aged 5-7 will learn what it means to be wild and how they can watch and appreciate wildlife responsibly. Students aged 8-11 and 11-14 will learn about illegal wildlife trade and how it impacts animals, ecosystems and people, as well as how to help keep wildlife wild.

The lessons within the program also give students opportunities to use their reading, writing, and other academic skills in science, geography, economics, and language arts.

For instance, in one lesson for ages 5-7 students read a comic-strip style story about a princess who finds a dragon, only to discover that he is quite the handful!

This lesson helps students develop their language skills while reinforcing that wild animals don’t make great pets. Students aged 8-10 explore wildlife trade concepts and vocabulary by watching a video and discussing questions such as “How do our choices as consumers affect animals?”

Older students, ages 11-14, use maps and charts to track the wildlife chain across the globe and explore the roles of source, transit, or consumer countries in illegal wildlife trade.

Each unit of the resource also identifies steps for students to take, from being savvy consumers and travelers, to sharing what they learn with others. Keep Wild Animals Wild encourages students to take an active role in keeping wild animals wild and protecting them from trade. There are several ways for students to demonstrate their learning with projects that can be shared in their classroom, their school community, or even with an online community of educators

Teachers and students can also visit our website to check out additional interactive activities. This includes interactive world maps, spotting animals, being a responsible shopper in an online store and creating plans to help stop trade at each stage along the illegal wildlife trade chain.

By learning about the amazing animals that populate the Earth and how they contribute to life on Earth, and by understanding that we, as humans, are part of this stunning diversity, children can be inspired to view animals with wonder, respect and empathy.

By learning about how they can make real changes to fight wildlife trade, children can be empowered to take an active role in keeping wild animals wild and protecting them from the trade.


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project