Mr. Minister, thank you for inviting me to join you today at this memorable event. I’d also like to thank Mr. Amitabh Agnihotri, the Director of the National Zoological Park, and Mr. S. Dasgupta, the Inspector-General of Forests, for organizing this event. Finally, I want to thank everyone here today who is taking time to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wildlife and wild flora and to consider the benefits we as human beings experience by protecting and conserving them.
India is an incredible country whose cultural diversity is easily matched by its biological diversity. Respect for wildlife and wild fauna is ordained by India’s many religious traditions, written into its constitution and statutes, and practiced daily by hundreds of millions of people all over India. Forest dwellers and city slickers, bureaucrats and environmentalists, tourists and merchants, scientists and students all have the opportunity to promote biological diversity in many different ways; combatting wildlife trafficking is one strategy in which we can all play a vital role.
India and the United States are working together to protect wildlife in three key areas. First, the U.S. National Zoo and the Indian Central Zoo Authority are cooperating to promote the health of animals in zoos. Second, our two governments agreed to share information about the creation of protected areas in oceans and seas. Third, we are discussion how we can better protect wildlife and combat animal trafficking.
The Fish and Wildlife Service also sponsored a World Wildlife Day 2017 photo competition that received 500 photographs from young people on every continent. A distinguished judging panel reviewed all submissions and I am delighted to say that the ten finalists include one Indian photographer, Swaroop Singha Roy, and one American, Gabriel Best. The winner will be announced today in New York. I loved both photographs and good luck to them both!
I am very pleased that young people like you are celebrating today and not only because this year’s theme is “Listen to the Young Voices.” My generation is merely the custodian of the world that you will inherit in the very near future. You are the future and I hope that when the day comes for you to pass this Earth on to your children and grandchildren, that it will be in better shape than the natural world we are passing on to you!
So please, help us with this important work. Visit our Facebook page to learn more about combatting wildlife trafficking and then share your thoughts with us. We want to hear your views!