2020 Review - Good things did happen in 2020!

Before we enter a new year, it's traditional to look back and review the year past.

Where on earth do we start with 2020?   It has been one heck of a year – no words to describe it – so unexpected, unpredictable, unsettling, upsetting.  We have had different experiences and taken different approaches.  

But we can look back at some amazing things which have happened in 2020. 

Charities have been emailing with some of the great things that have happened – and the one thing for sure is that they have needed our support, and people have risen to the occasion to give it.

Here are some great things that happened in 2020 and there's more to come!  I’ve tried to cover small charities as much as the bigger ones, because at the end of the day, every action counts and makes a difference.

  1.  In Africa, they ran for wildlife

    During the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, 1000 African Parks rangers ran 21,000 km and raised $250,000 to outfit 1,000 other rangers with the essential gear they need to go out on patrol.

  2. More Meadow Makers in Devon, creating wildflower meadows for wildlife

    The Devon Wildlife Trust had a Meadow Makers Appeal – they were aiming to raise £6,000.   Wildflower meadows are colourful homes for threatened wildlife. Lost from so many places, Meadow Makers can restore them, with a little help.  Within 21 days, 384 supporters had donated not just £6,000 but £10,673!  This means more meadow makers can make meadows in Devon, bringing colourful wildflower meadows to the county – homes for threatened wildlife. 

  3. The World Land Trust hits 2,222,247 acres saved thanks to supporters and donors 

    The World Land Trust has had an amazing year to such an extent that the habitats now directly saved by World Land Trust supporters since the charity started has now reached a truly remarkable 2,222,247 acres!  Amongst the incredible gains, an appeal to save the Choco Forest in Ecuador in the Big Match fortnight hit its target within the two weeks.  Thousands of people donated,raising the required £500,000 to purchase the acreage, and not only that, since it was kept open, the donations kept coming until it hit an unbelievable £925,000!  From Cameroon’s great ape refuges to Columbia’s Barbacoas (642 acres), more ecosystems have a far brighter future.  The great apes now have a wildlife corridor to pass safely through. The Wildfires Appeal meant more help could be given to local communities and conservation organisations fighting the wildfires.  

  4. Saiga antelope experience a mass calving in Kazakstan 

    Fauna and Flora International also had reasons to celebrate 2020.  Saiga antelope in Kazakhstan experienced its largest mass calving in recent years, with over 500 calves recorded.  One of Brazil’s most threatened parrots, who appeared doomed to extinction 10 years ago, is back from the brink thanks to the single-minded dedication of a team of local conservationists supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme. A groundbreaking transboundary agreement between Guinea and Liberia was brought into sharp focus after two forest elephants left the sanctuary of the Ziama Massif and went walkabout in West Africa. A programme of camera trapping at secret locations in Vietnam, gathering evidence needed to support designation of new protected areas, revealed the presence of numerous threatened species – including critically endangered Sunda pangolin – that were believed to have been virtually obliterated by poaching. 

  5. Animals Asia’s bears benefit from artists

    The success of this year's Sketch for Survival means we have been able to increase our support for the work of all our 2020 partners. In the case of Animals Asia, by more than 50% - from £11,400 to £17,500. These funds have already helped to rescue 11 moon bears this year from a life behind bars in Vietnam. Find out more  

  6. The Sumatran Orangutan Society supporters helped both orangutans and local communities

    The Sumatran Orangutan Society reported that OIC’s restoration staff restored over 228 hectares of land!  They launched an appeal to help the guides and their families so that they could have longer term support.  In October, they’ve started a Forest Friendly Livelihoods project to help families without income as the pandemic closed the parks.  They raised enough funds to buy emergency food parcels for 558 families.  22 orangutans were rescued, and some could be released straight into safe forest.  Others were confiscated from the pet trade and needed to be rehabilitated.  And raising money to plant trees around the Gunung Leuser National Park means they can provide an income to guides and their families by paying them to plant trees, transport seedlings and other materials, maintaining planted seedlings and make eco poly-bags from banana trunk fibres.  You can donate here

  7. Poachers become bee-keepers and fish farmers 

    The amazing Moses in Uganda has been busy providing poachers with incomes such as bee-keeping and fish farming to poaching so that they don’t have to turn to poaching to get an income and charity Nikela is helping him.  Find out more here

  8. African Elephants are on the increase thanks to the Virunga Fund

    Global Wildlife Conservation report that the Virunga Fund helped the park’s African Elephant herd increase from 120 to 700!  The elephants are busy turning some areas back to true grassland savanna, and that is allowing the return of grazers and other wildlife species who haven’t been in the park for 20 years.  Global Wildlife Conservation also report that 35,000 donors stepped up to help after the Amazon forest fires last year and as a result, they are working with 36 partner organisations on 41 projects to improve the conservation of nearly 100 million acres of Amazonia. They also reported that Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia for First Time in 3,000 Years, thanks to efforts by Aussie Ark and WildArk.  

  9. More land for wildlife in the state of Washington, USA

    The Skagit Land Trust now protects eight properties, covering 361 acres with 4.6 miles of river and slough shoreline. This fall, the Trust added a 20 acre parcel and a second property. These lands are home wildlife such as elk, bobcats, chinook salmon, bull trout, and steelhead.  The Trust’s members have helped fund the purchase, along with the Washington State RCO Conservation Office, and Seattle City Light match.   Volunteer land stewards give their time to help manage the conservation areas, and the Trust has worked with partners to restore fish habitat.  Again, Trust membership and donors fund these activities.

  10. 224 million animals protected in 2020 thanks to donations and support

    World Animal Protection protected 224 million animals in 2020, turning a year of challenge into lasting change. Thanks to donations and support, WAP could provide essential funds for 11 ethical, elephant-friendly camps across Asia to keep their elephants fed and cared for.  85 elephant camps in Thailand were forced to close because of the coronavirus, laying off over 5,000 staff.

  11. Cleaning up the seas

    Surfers against Sewage looked back at some of the biggest moments of ocean activism from 2020.   44691 people signed their petition to #EndSewagePollution, nearly one million primary school children are enrolled in their Plastic Free Programme.  With their Return to Offender, Mass Uwrap and Plastic Protest activations, they highlighted and targeted the culprits who still pollute the environment with plastic and raw sewage dumps.  These are great campaigns, so please look them up if you are unfamiliar with them.   Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are now banned from 1 October.  Watch out for #GenerationSea in 2021 to see how you can support them.

  12. Bears gain more acreage in Montana, USA

    Vital Ground partner with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and together they’ve protected more acres at the Wild River Project in North Western Montana so they’ve ended 2020 with another win for wildlife, thanks to all their supporters.  Many of these have contributed to the Bart the Bear Memorial Campaign.   Wild River Project now covers more than 125 contiguous acres along the Kootenai River near the town of Troy. Located near the confluence of the Yaak and Kootenai rivers, the site represents a natural bottleneck for wildlife moving across the valley. The Kootenai River splits the Cabinet and Purcell mountain ranges, each of which is home to a small population of grizzly bears as well as Canada lynx, wolverine and other sensitive species.

  13. In the UK, the government re-thinks its unpopular planning changes

    UK countryside Charity Campaign for Rural England announced that the government has had a rethink on their unpopular planning changes – CPRE groups and supporters had been arguing against these since they were announced in August 2020.   They also had a new video encouraging people to join the regeneration of the countryside. 

  14. Wildlife Conservation Society protects and conserves

    The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has partnered with local government and communities to keep Borneo’s wildlife and wild places safe. It’s now easier to keep protected areas safe and there’s been a ban on a commercial wildlife trade. A major part of this was training people to implement it all.  WCS also entered into a public-private partnership with Congo to defeat an alarming rise in elephant poaching. And officials on WCS-supported patrols discovered an illegal gold mine in the Opaki Wildlife Reserve.  In Patagonia, WCS has implemented state of the art technology to research and track elephant seals, penguins and large whales.  This technology will help them conserve the incredible wildlife there.  Find out more

  15. More wildlife corridors for elephants in India

    Elephant Family reported in September that their work with the Wildlife Trust of India to protect a Wildlife Corridor in Kerala, Southern India, received endorsement from the regional government with a pledge to accelerate its expansion. Securing 4 more corridors will help reconnect forest fragment and give animals food and a safe passage between habitats  In July, their conservation work in Myanmar was awarded a grant by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.  This means they can embark on a new 3 year programme, and it also recognises their efforts safeguard the livelihoods of farmers, by supporting their ability to live alongside their huge, wild neighbours without conflict.   And work by their conservation partner Sanjay Gubbi and the Nature Conservation Foundation led to the government-approved expansion of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary .  Over 13,000 acres were added, and there was an approval for another 32,572 acres to be dedicated to a population of Indian Chinkaras, who were newly discovered.   This means that over 45,000 more acres of forest are protected, securing a future for wildlife and reducing conflict between people and animals. 

  16. Cranes, godwits are on the up thanks to the WWT

    WWT reported that the crane population in the UK had reached its highest level for over 400 years.  They launched a home-school learning hub, their first, a 12-week home learning programme brings you free curriculum-linked science resources, quizzes and videos.  And the number of breeding godwits has risen in the Fens, thanks to conservation efforts.  There are now 49 breeding pairs!  Supports have helped push for a momentous vote to ban lead shot in and around EU wetlands, thus bringing closer the end of millions of waterbirds suffering from lead poisoning. 

  17. Sloth news from Costa Rica

    The Sloth Conservation Foundation reported in late December that a very rare event was discovered in Costa Rica!  A wild 3 fingered sloth has apparently adopted a baby two-fingered sloth, and caring for it!  The two sloths belong to two different families, and you can see the video to see how they are getting on.

  18. Wildlife Pond

    We put a wildlife pond into our garden during lockdown!  It's a work in progress but we've done it :-)  We've also put more bird baths and drinking places for wildlife in, tried to grow a wildlife meadow in a couple of places and planted more wildlife friendly flowers.   Every action helps