With COVID-19 spanning the globe and quarantine measures keeping us apart, it’s been a rough start to 2020. But hardship often provides opportunity for us to discover new ways to stay connected, and a week ago our first Virtual Wildlife Conservation Expo brought wildlife conservationists and supporters together in an unprecedented way. Despite this event being our first foray into an online format, the Expo went off without a hitch and gave us all the boost we needed during these uncertain times. Let’s take a look at some of the top highlights from this remarkable day!
If you were unable to attend WCN’s Virtual Spring Expo, or simply wish to relive the magic from that red letter day, some of the key moments included the following:
- We had an extraordinary turnout from both our Network of conservationists and attendees. Nearly all of our Partners were live for the Expo, participating in main stage presentations or Q&A sessions to share their amazing work. Over 1,600 people attended the Virtual Spring Expo from 74 countries, our largest Expo audience ever. People in Africa and other faraway places stayed up past midnight in their respective time zones just to be a part of Expo. Many attendees expressed gratitude for the virtual format, as they are ordinarily unable to attend our in-person Expos due to travel complications. This enthusiastic turnout has us excited to plan more Virtual Expos in the future!
- Charles Knowles and JG Collomb, WCN’s President and Executive Director respectively, kicked things off by introducing a surprise appearance from Dr. Jane Goodall, a long-time supporter of WCN. Her message of hope for conservation in the face of COVID-19 set an inspirational tone for the day. We also had a surprise visit from Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder of Save the Elephants (STE), during the STE presentation. He helped answer a round of audience questions along with presenters Frank Pope and Nancy Odweyo.
- The amazing questions and supportive comments from attendees were staggering. We were overwhelmed by the swell of positivity and engagement from the audience, joining from all around the world and greeting each other and our Partners with such a tremendous level of warmth. In today’s difficult climate, the love and energy of this community means more than ever before, and this Virtual Expo provided a way for us all to be together in isolation. Thank you for playing such a big role in its success.
- Our interactive COVID-19 panel assembled experts to discuss the origins of zoonotic viruses, how they transfer from animals to humans through wildlife trafficking, and what we can do to prevent the next outbreak. This panel offered valuable insights on our current pandemic and demonstrated how important conservation efforts are to ensure the safety and health of both animals and people.
- And of course, it wouldn’t be Expo without hearing all about wildlife! Watching live talks from conservationists about how they work with local people to safeguard endangered species was fascinating as always. We learned about incredible wildlife like elephants, painted dogs, Grevy’s zebras, and spectacled bears, as well as other species from our wider Partner Network.
Even in the face of uncertainty and global upheaval, our amazing community of wildlife conservationists and advocates came together and made our first Virtual Spring Expo a triumph. It was an unforgettable day that we hope left you feeling inspired to continue supporting conservation and building a future for wildlife.
All of the Virtual Spring Expo talks can be viewed online here.
Thank you for being a member of our community, and we’ll see you at Fall Expo!