As 2014 gets into full swing, WWF celebrates successes of 2013 and thanks supporters who made these wins possible. We’ve noted victories that positively impact communities and species worldwide in places as unique as Nepal, the Northern Great Plains and the Arctic. Experts at every level—from the field to the government—relied on scientific evidence and experience to push and plan for a sustainable future.

By traveling with NHA and WWF, you support WWF’s conservation work around the world. Together, we will continue to work toward and achieve positive change for species, communities and diverse habitats each day of the year.

1. President Obama and Wildlife Crime

President Obama took several steps to support countries reeling under the onslaught of wildlife crime and help end poaching and trafficking. The US pledged $10 million to improve protection for threatened wildlife populations and the rangers who protect these species in multiple African countries. The White House also appointed WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts and several others to the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking.

2. Earth Hour City Challenge and Earth Hour

WWF supporters light candles for Earth Hour.

WWF supporters light candles for Earth Hour. Photo © Frank Parhizgar / WWF-Canada

On March 23, 2013, hundreds of millions of people worldwide switched off their lights for one hour to show their commitment to the planet. Sixty cities also entered the 2013 Earth Hour City Challenge, reporting changes they’re making to quantifiably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand renewable energy, or increase energy efficiency.

3. A Promise to End Thai Ivory Trade

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to start a legislative process to end ivory trade in Thailand, which will help stem global wildlife trafficking. Nearly 1.5 million WWF, Leonardo DiCaprio and Avaaz supporters signed a petition calling on Thailand to ban its ivory trade. Ending the Thai ivory trade—currently the world’s largest unregulated ivory market—will aid in curbing the poaching crisis that is leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants each year.

4. Work on Tribal National Park Begins

The Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is working with the National Park Service to create the first tribal national park within the National Park System. A key part of the park’s management plan is the restoration of some 1,000 bison to the land. Adding these bison will more than double the total number of bison the tribe stewards; they already have 900 bison spread across four pastures around the reservation. This will be one of the largest single herds of bison in the country.

5. International Paper

International Paper, a paper and packaging company, joined the Global Forest & Trade Network in North America, an initiative created by WWF to engage companies throughout the supply chain and around the world to adopt responsible forest management and trade practices. The company joined the network of more than 200 companies and communities worldwide committed to responsible forestry.

6. Vaquitas in Mexico

Group of Vaquitas

The vaquita is the world’s smallest porpoise. Photo © WWF-Mexico

WWF organized a global petition to urge the Mexican government to ban gillnets from the vaquita’s marine habitat, and more than 38,000 people from 127 countries and territories participated in the effort. The Mexican government will begin phasing out drift gillnets used for shrimp fishing in the upper Gulf of California in favor of more selective and vaquita-friendly fishing gear. This gear—developed and tested by WWF—reduces bycatch of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise while still allowing fishers to continue earning their livelihoods.

7. Shell Oil in the Arctic

Royal Dutch Shell scrapped a plan to drill for oil and gas in Alaska’s mammal-rich Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2013. The announcement followed multiple disasters during Shell’s 2012 drilling season. WWF welcomed the decision, given the environmental and cultural values of the Arctic. Walrus, polar bears and whales all call the Beaufort and Chukchi seas home.

8. Saola Rediscovered


The saola is one of the rarest mammals on the planet. Photo © David Hulse/WWF Canon

A camera trap set up by WWF and the Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department captured images of the saola—one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on the planet—for the first time in the 21st century. Saola have been documented in the wild by scientists on only four previous occasions since their discovery in 1992 by a joint team from Vietnam’s Ministry of Forestry (now called Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and WWF surveying the forests near Vietnam’s border with Laos.

9. GEF Partnership

WWF became a full partner of the Global Environment Facility, an organization created in 1992 to support bold actions in developing countries tied to large landscapes and large environmental challenges. With funding from GEF, WWF and other stakeholders have helped put tuna on the road to sustainable management in all five of the world’s oceans.

10. Snow Leopard Summit

An ambitious new plan to protect and conserve snow leopards was endorsed by government representatives from the 12 Asian countries where the species roam. The goal is to ensure 20 healthy landscapes of snow leopards by 2020. Representatives also agreed to promote climate smart development that ensures water, food and energy security for the people living in and downstream from the high mountains of Asia.

11. New Amazon Species

From 2010 to 2013, 441 new species were scientifically identified in the Amazon, including a titi monkey that purrs like a cat and a new passion flower that sprouts spaghetti-like filaments from the center of the bloom. Various scientists described the new species and WWF compiled the list of 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal.

12. Salmon Aquaculture

Fifteen companies, representing 70% of global farmed salmon production, are committing that 100% of their production will be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council by 2020. This should measurably reduce the impact of salmon production on some of the world’s most ecologically important regions, and can have ripple effects through the entire global food industry.

13. Nepal and Tigers

tigress and cub

Photo taken with a camera trap in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Photo © Government of Nepal-DNPWC / WWF Nepal

Nepal’s government announced the country’s tiger population has increased by 63% since the last survey in 2009, putting the number of tigers at an estimated 198 with a range between 163-235. In Nepal, this massive wildlife survey—funded by WWF UK, WWF Australia, WWF US, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Hariyo Ban Program (funded by USAID), and US Fish and Wildlife Service—included more than 260 trained staff, camera traps covering 1,870 square miles of tiger habitat and 7,699 tiger images. In November, 2013 the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced a $3 million dollar grant for further tiger conservation in Nepal.

14. Renewed Partnership

Muhtar Kent, CEO and Chairman of the Board of The Coca-Cola Company, and Carter Roberts, WWF-US President and CEO, announced in July a renewed partnership through 2020 to conserve the world’s natural resources. The continued partnership will help conserve the world’s freshwater resources and measurably improve Coca-Cola’s environmental performance across the company’s value change, including agriculture, climate, packaging and water efficiency impacts.

15. Ivory Crush

Six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs were crushed to gravel at an event hosted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver. The event sent the message that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking and is committed to stopping wildlife crime. The ivory was the accumulated contraband from more than 20 years of seizures by US law enforcement.