By Shannon Elizabeth
This year I have been thinking about what Endangered Species Day means and why it was created. It doesn’t feel like the other “days” we celebrate so haphazardly, announcing things like “Happy World Rhino Day” or “Happy National Cousins Day.” Instead, it’s a day I wish didn’t have to exist. After all, it’s only on the calendar because there are animals, plants, and other organisms that are on the verge of going extinct.
Think about that for a second. Unless we do something, they will go extinct…gone, off the face of this planet, forever, never to return. And you may ask why are they going extinct? In fact, I looked this up just to better understand all the factors that seem to be involved.
Natural selection and natural disasters certainly play their part in the demise of species. But what really stands out for me are the other factors—pollution (caused by humans), climate change (caused by humans), and habitat loss (caused by humans). And then, of course, there’s overexploitation (yes, you guessed it, humans, again).
Overexploitation? To me, it should just be called exploitation. Did you know that the illegal wildlife trade, which is absolutely exploitation in every sense of the word, is a multibillion-dollar industry? In fact, it is ranked as the fourth most profitable transnational crime, only behind the drug trade, arms trade, and human trafficking. So, not only are human beings the creators of Endangered Species Day; we—that’s you, me, and every other living person on the planet—are also the main reason it’s needed in the first place.
When I was soul searching and looking for ways to make a more significant impact on behalf of the animals of this planet, it was ultimately a video of a poached elephant that flipped a switch in me. The whole idea that elephants might become extinct in my lifetime made no sense at all.
I remember studying dinosaurs in school and seeing their bones in museums. To me, these amazing creatures that once ruled Earth seemed mythical, no more real in my life than Winnie The Pooh or even Pacman, for that matter. It was simply unthinkable that elephants might also one day no longer be part of our reality. I couldn’t then, and still can’t, come to terms with the possibility that these beautiful, majestic gray giants, with their advanced family units and babies that love rolling around in the mud and playing with each other, might one day disappear from our planet. And only because some people decided it would be a good idea to make piano keys, statues, jewelry, and tchotchkes out of elephant tusks? It was, and still is, preposterous!
Once I understood what was happening on the other side of the world from where I lived in New York City, I just couldn’t ignore it. Once you know something, you can’t just unknow it. What would that say about a person who allows things to happen they know are wrong and unjust and then simply stands by and does nothing? Doing nothing seems as bad as actually committing the crime!
So, my non-profit was rebranded, and I committed the rest of my life to fight for endangered species everywhere. I had no idea how I could help or what I could bring to the table that wasn’t already happening, but I just had to try. I knew instantly that this was my mission on planet Earth.
People are always searching for their meaning of life, and I am so grateful I found mine. Part of my job now is to continuously take action, and another part is to educate and inspire others to join me on this mission. Alone we can’t do everything, but together we can. Everybody has the power to make a change in this world as just one human being. And all our actions add up to something more powerful than we could ever imagine. We all make an impact on this planet, good and bad. I just want to do everything in my power to make my positive impact far greater than my negative footprint.
So, my action this Endangered Species Day is that we at the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation will help to look after our adopted son, Munu The Rhino. If you haven’t seen Munu’s story yet, please check out our video here. The short of it is, Munu is a blind, critically endangered black rhino who needs us to not only be a voice for him but to be his eyes as well.
Because of his affliction, Munu can’t just go out into the bush and find food on his own. So, he relies on the collective “us” to feed him and make sure he is healthy, happy, and safe. Through your generous donations, we’ve been able to get Munu a dedicated vehicle so that food can be brought to him each and every day. He is also getting a couple of new ranger friends who will be feeding him, looking after him, and of course, keeping him company.
But now comes the part where you can also make a difference in Munu’s life. So, I hope I have inspired you to join us on his journey. He eats browse and lucerne for the nutrients he needs. But he needs a lot. Can you guess how much Munu eats in a day? Well, he happily munches his way through as much as 60lbs, or 27kgs, every 24 hours. That’s almost half of my body weight every day!
Munu can eat well on just $10 a day, but that adds up fast. So, I’m inviting you to join our mission to make sure Munu is healthy and has a full tummy for the rest of his hopefully long life. $10/day…$70/week…$3,650/year… Our goal for this Endangered Species Day is to meet Munu’s ongoing food bill. No amount is too small, and every penny donated to this campaign will benefit Munu.
Can you imagine being in the middle of the bush, blind? This boy is so very special to us, and we will do whatever we can to make sure he is happy and not just surviving but thriving! Please sign up to be a part of his life. Visit us here to learn more and walk this journey with Munu and the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation.
From all of us at the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation, from Brett Barlow (Munu’s actual foster dad), and from Munu himself, thank you for remembering him on this day. Support him in whatever way you can (even if it’s just using your voice to share his story). If you do, you will never be one of those people who stands by doing nothing.
SAVE ONE, SAVE ALL.