Another important day is coming up for our beautiful Earth this month: World Environment Day on Sunday 5th June. This year’s theme is our wildlife, which Africa is abundantly blessed with – but only as long as we safeguard this biodiversity.
Illegal wildlife trade is taking its toll on many of our wild animals. Here in South Africa, the plight of the Rhinos is well-known, which are being slaughtered for their iconic horn. The senseless killing of Rhinos rose 90-fold between 2007 and 2015 from 13 rhinos killed in 2007 to 1,175 rhinos killed in 2015. Earlier in May South Africa made the controversial decision to uplift the ban on rhino-horn trade. It is difficult to say if this decision would result in the safeguarding and flourishing of these animals.
SAFCEI however asks itself what motivations and thinking underlie the (illegal) trade in wildlife. Do we consider the rest of the community of life on Earth as mere property, natural “resources” to be exploited, bought, and sold just as slaves were? Do wild life only have value through their use to human beings? Or do we consider them to have intrinsic value? What would a society look like that upholds the rights of all members of a particular community (the non-human ones as well)? Would we not rather be citizens of the Earth as a whole?
Elephants too, face this fate as ivory trading continues despite many efforts to curb it. These majestic animals need our prayers, as do many other wildlife species threatened by exotic pet trading, habitat loss, climate change or exploitation.
So we invite you to mark this World Environment Day in their honour. To inspire you we share here part of a faith statement put together by Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC):
“When we look with eyes of faith at the wonders of all that God has created: at the strength of the lion, the beauty of the gazelle, the swirling patterns of the birds of the air and the fish in the waters. When we see the flowers of the field greater in their beauty than even Solomon in all his riches, we should rejoice that God has placed us in the midst of such a glorious world. Therefore, when we see this glory diminished by our sin, greed and foolishness, we should be horrified and speak out against this wanton destruction of the wonder that God has created. We should both repent and seek to do all in our power to protect all that God has created.”
- Faith Statement on Wildlife Trade
If you wish to dedicate your Sunday service to wild life, please make use of this wonderful resource prepared by the Green Anglicans.
If you wish to celebrate WED in another way as a faith community, you might find this booklet helpful.
We also include an inspirational Baha’i reading on compassion for Animals.
We refer you once again to the wonderful collection of Green Khutbahs compiled by the Muslims4Ecojustice.
JAEI has also compiled a wonderful Christian Prayer Diary for the month of June.
May you all experience a day of celebrating kinship with the rest of the Earth community on World Environment Day 2016!