One of the world’s leading animal welfare and conservation charities is celebrating its 50th anniversary today with a look at some of the many ways it has helped animals around the world.
As part of marking its half a century, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is pleading for everyone to play a part in protecting threatened wildlife.
Over the years, the Daily Mail has visited many of IFAW’s projects around the world and helped highlight and support the plight of animals in need, from elephants orphaned by poaching or natural disasters, to baby bears needing to be hand-reared after their mothers were illegally hunted.
As well as protecting animal populations on the ground from poaching and rescuing individual animals in need of care, IFAW campaigns for better legislation to outlaw cruelty and save species threatened with extinction.
It also urges members of the public to help by avoiding buying wildlife products, such as ivory.
A Canadian sealer swings a hakapik to kill a harp seal pup while it looks up to him. Ending Canada’s cruel commercial seal hunt was IFAW’s founding campaign when the organisation was set up by Brian Davies in 1969. Every year, tens of thousands of young harp seal pups were brutally clubbed and skinned for their fur. IFAW’s first major victory came in 1982 when Europe banned the import of whitecoat (newborn) harp seal skins, almost ending the hunt
An endangered elephant being moved in Malawi. In more recent years, much of IFAW’s focus has been on tackling the global ivory poaching crisis, which threatens the future survival of elephants, with one killed every 26 minutes for its tusks. Last December, the government announced a UK ban on ivory sales
Hero police dog Finn, who survived horrific knife injuries in Hertfordshire in 2016 while defending his handler from attack, sparked the successful Finn’s Law campaign, supported by IFAW. The new law saw police animals no longer treated as government property and so criminals who attacked them could be prosecuted fully
Russian bear cubs in their natural habitat. Baby bears needing to be hand-reared after their mothers were illegally hunted is one of the many projects supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare
Three-month-old orphaned elephants Rupa and 11-month-old Aashi getting ready for bed at the IFAW rescue centre in the Karazanga national park Assam state, India. British animal lovers have shown support for the ban on ivory sales, responding to IFAW’s calls to reject ivory ownership by donating more than half a tonne of their unwanted ivory to the charity to be destroyed
Vet Panjti Basumatary (left) came up with the idea of putting socks and boots on the young elephants as they got so cold during the winter nights, they now sleep soundly. Rupa fell down a cliff and was left by her mother, Aashi was found in a tea garden lost.
A penguin rescue off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000. Some of the 20,223 oiled penguins were successfully treated and released by IFAW and local partner SANCCOB after one of the world’s worst ever oil spill bird disasters, caused by MV Treasure Oil Spill, which threatened the survival of the entire species
A protected whale nursery saved from destruction. The Eastern Pacific gray whales and their calves continue to enjoy the unique ‘whale nursery’ of Laguna San Ignacio in Mexico after the IFAW successfully campaigned to stop plans for the pristine lagoon to be destroyed for a salt production plant
A newborn harp seal receives a seal ‘kiss’, an identifying sniff from its mother in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. In two weeks the largest hunt for marine mammals in the world will begin. In February 2003, the Canadian government announced plans to cull 975,000 pups in the next three years despite worldwide protests against the cruelty. Seal pups as young as 12 days old are clubbed, hooked and sometimes skinned alive
Bear cub in Russia. In the UK, a major victory in animal welfare came in 2004 with the Hunting Act which outlawed fox hunting. This followed a 15-year campaign by IFAW which monitored hunts and gathered video evidence
Eastern Pacific gray whales and their calves continue to enjoy the unique ‘whale nursery’ of Laguna San Ignacio in Mexico. Azzedine Downes added: ‘This work takes all of us. By rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing animals, one by one – by protecting their habitats and helping them flourish – we can save other species, and our own’
A dolphin stranding rescue in which the IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team, based in the stranding hotspot of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, are pictured rescuing one of four male dolphins stranded in shallow marshland – their 5,000th stranding response. All four were successfully released back into the wild
A whitecoat baby harp seal in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. In 2009, the IFAW and other groups successfully achieved a European ban on trade in seal products, helping to reduce the number of seals killed in the last decade by 83 per cent and the IFAW continues to campaign in Canada for a final end to the hunt
Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO, said: ‘Humans make up less than one per cent of all life on Earth, but we have destroyed 83 per cent of all wild animals and half of plants on the planet. Still, we’re hopeful. Every species and every habitat has the ability to bounce back, and every person, everywhere has the chance to act. The future depends on what we do now’
Only criminal damage charges could be brought against the accused over the injuries caused to Finn as he was classed as police property. A law change was rushed through parliament in 2017 off the back of his case as the IFAW joined calls for stronger sentences for attacks on service animals
Finn is credited with saving the life of PC Dave Wardell, from Hertfordshire (pictured), when a robbery suspect turned on them with a knife in 2016. Finn suffered serious stab wounds to the chest and head but did not let go until back-up arrived, and he was initially thought unlikely to survive