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Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, Uganda. © Ondřej Prosický / Adobe Stock

Celebrating 120 years of innovation, influence & impact

A look back at some of Fauna & Flora’s landmark achievements since our foundation in 1903

News

It’s the time of year when we normally look back on some of our conservation highlights from the past 12 months. This year, however, we’re taking you further back in time as Fauna & Flora marks an auspicious anniversary.

On 11th December 1903, six days before the Wright brothers took to the skies and changed the world of aviation forever, a fledgling international wildlife conservation organisation was also spreading its wings, ready to embark on a historic maiden flight of its own.

Fauna & Flora, as we’re known today, took flight inside London’s Natural History Museum. Our inaugural meeting was held in that famous building a year before the arrival of ‘Dippy’, the gargantuan diplodocus skeleton that would continue to tower over awestruck visitors well into the new millennium.

In 2003, the guests at Fauna & Flora’s centenary celebrations dined beneath those colossal replica bones. Dippy has since been replaced by a blue whale skeleton, but Fauna & Flora has continued to reinvent itself – and to grow in stature – as the 21st century unfolds.

One of the secrets of Fauna & Flora’s longevity is our adaptability and willingness to evolve. That evolution runs much deeper than a handful of name changes over the years.

Minutes from the first meeting of the society that eventually became Fauna & Flora.

Minutes from the first meeting of the society that eventually became Fauna & Flora.

First page of the original minutes book documenting the inaugural meeting, on 11th December 1903, of the organisation known today as Fauna & Flora.

Past, present & future

Throughout most of our 120 years, we purposely operated out of the glare of the public spotlight – conservation’s best-kept secret, in effect. Recently, however, we’ve witnessed seismic shifts in the conservation landscape, and we’re adapting to ensure that we’re in the best possible position to address these.

That means raising the visibility of our work and increasing the impact and scale of our activities, in order to tackle the escalating and interrelated biodiversity and climate crises. This is not about changing direction. Just the opposite. We’re placing renewed emphasis on the tried-and-tested approach that has brought us so much success: locally led conservation that puts our partners in control while providing the support they need to safeguard biodiversity.

Fauna & Flora has never aspired to save the planet single-handedly. The approach is captured by our new strapline: saving nature together. We’ll continue to adhere to that successful partnership blueprint – which Fauna & Flora was instrumental in creating – but scaling up our impact in line with the urgency of the biodiversity crisis.

We’re aware that the challenge we face is huge, but we approach it with optimism, which comes from knowing what we have already achieved over the years. In early 2024, we’ll be looking ahead to what the new year and beyond holds in store for Fauna & Flora, but for now here are some of the milestones along the road we’ve already travelled together with our partners around the world.

A dozen decades of conservation success

Sketch of Edward North Buxton, founding father of Fauna & Flora

Sketch of Edward North Buxton, founding father of Fauna & Flora

1903

Birth of the organisation known today as Fauna & Flora.

One of Kruger National Park's famous tuskers. © Anthony Hall-Martin

© Anthony Hall-Martin

1926

Fauna & Flora’s secretary and founder-member is instrumental in creating South Africa’s Kruger National Park – a century later the park receives around one million visitors annually.

Manuscript of the International Convention for the Protection of Fauna and Flora (1933)

Manuscript of the International Convention for the Protection of Fauna and Flora (1933)

1933

Fauna & Flora is the driving force behind the world’s first international wildlife conservation treaty, safeguarding some of Africa’s most iconic species.

    Sketch of Edward North Buxton, founding father of Fauna & Flora

    Sketch of Edward North Buxton, founding father of Fauna & Flora

    1903

    Birth of the organisation known today as Fauna & Flora.

    One of Kruger National Park's famous tuskers. © Anthony Hall-Martin

    © Anthony Hall-Martin

    1926

    Fauna & Flora’s secretary and founder-member is instrumental in creating South Africa’s Kruger National Park – a century later the park receives around one million visitors annually.

    Manuscript of the International Convention for the Protection of Fauna and Flora (1933)

    Manuscript of the International Convention for the Protection of Fauna and Flora (1933)

    1933

    Fauna & Flora is the driving force behind the world’s first international wildlife conservation treaty, safeguarding some of Africa’s most iconic species.

The IUCN Red List website

The IUCN Red List website

1948

Founding member of the IUCN – The World Conservation Union.

Operation Noah - Rhino relocation. © Dr Toni Harthoorn / Fauna & Flora

© Dr Toni Harthoorn / Fauna & Flora

1959

Operation Noah rescues iconic African wildlife from the rising waters of the newly built Kariba Dam.

Painting of Arabian oryx by Peter Scott, former Chairman and President of Fauna & Flora

Painting of Arabian oryx by Peter Scott, former Chairman and President of Fauna & Flora

1963

Arabian oryx rescued from extinction through the world’s first successful captive-breeding and reintroduction programme.

    The IUCN Red List website

    The IUCN Red List website

    1948

    Founding member of the IUCN – The World Conservation Union.

    Operation Noah - Rhino relocation. © Dr Toni Harthoorn / Fauna & Flora

    © Dr Toni Harthoorn / Fauna & Flora

    1959

    Operation Noah rescues iconic African wildlife from the rising waters of the newly built Kariba Dam.

    Painting of Arabian oryx by Peter Scott, former Chairman and President of Fauna & Flora

    Painting of Arabian oryx by Peter Scott, former Chairman and President of Fauna & Flora

    1963

    Arabian oryx rescued from extinction through the world’s first successful captive-breeding and reintroduction programme.

1978: Launch of the Mountain Gorilla Project

Fauna & Flora has been working to conserve mountain gorillas since Sir David Attenborough, now our long-standing vice-president, asked us to help save these gravely threatened great apes. That first intervention grew into the incredibly successful International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a unique collaboration between multiple conservation partners across the mountain gorillas’ entire range.

Since Fauna & Flora first began working with them, numbers have increased from below 300 to over 1,000 – a testament to the hard work and collaborative efforts of all those working to save these incredible primates.

Mountain gorilla. © Camilla Rhodes / Fauna & Flora

Mountain gorilla. © Camilla Rhodes / Fauna & Flora

Thanks to the intervention of Fauna & Flora and a range of local and international partners, mountain gorillas are off the critical list.

Close up of an Antiguan racer snake (red form) on Bird Island. Credit: Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Close up of an Antiguan racer snake (red form) on Bird Island. Credit: Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

1995

Antiguan racer, the world’s rarest snake, saved from extinction, with numbers rising from 50 to over 1,000 today.

Cement mining in Delacour's langur habitat, Kim Bang. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Cement mining in Delacour's langur habitat, Kim Bang. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

2000

Groundbreaking business & biodiversity programme puts nature firmly on the agenda of blue-chip companies operating in and around sensitive wildlife habitats.

Heydi Salazar, Fauna & Flora Programme Manager, Marine & Turtles, with Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Nicaragua. © Fauna & Flora

Heydi Salazar, Fauna & Flora Programme Manager, Marine & Turtles, with Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Nicaragua. © Fauna & Flora

2007

Start of protection measures for sea turtles in Nicaragua that have since seen the safe release of an estimated seven million hawksbill, leatherback, green and olive ridley turtle hatchlings.

    Close up of an Antiguan racer snake (red form) on Bird Island. Credit: Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    Close up of an Antiguan racer snake (red form) on Bird Island. Credit: Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    1995

    Antiguan racer, the world’s rarest snake, saved from extinction, with numbers rising from 50 to over 1,000 today.

    Cement mining in Delacour's langur habitat, Kim Bang. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    Cement mining in Delacour's langur habitat, Kim Bang. © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    2000

    Groundbreaking business & biodiversity programme puts nature firmly on the agenda of blue-chip companies operating in and around sensitive wildlife habitats.

    Heydi Salazar, Fauna & Flora Programme Manager, Marine & Turtles, with Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Nicaragua. © Fauna & Flora

    Heydi Salazar, Fauna & Flora Programme Manager, Marine & Turtles, with Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Nicaragua. © Fauna & Flora

    2007

    Start of protection measures for sea turtles in Nicaragua that have since seen the safe release of an estimated seven million hawksbill, leatherback, green and olive ridley turtle hatchlings.

Saw Soe Aung (left) with That Nhei Aung and a local hunter viewing the first ever photos of the then newly discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

Saw Soe Aung (left) with That Nhei Aung and a local hunter viewing the first ever photos of the then newly discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

2010

Launch of Myanmar programme that has seen the discovery of over 100 new species, including a multitude of geckos and the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, whose montane haven has since been declared a national park.

Marianne Teoh and student conducting seagrass surveys in Cambodia. © Paul Colley

Marianne Teoh and student conducting seagrass surveys in Cambodia. © Paul Colley

2011

Birth of dedicated marine programme that now works with communities across nearly 80 marine and coastal sites worldwide.

Microbeads. © MPCA

Microbeads. © MPCA

2018

Fauna & Flora and coalition partners secure UK ban on plastic microbeads, reducing a major source of ocean pollution.

    Saw Soe Aung (left) with That Nhei Aung and a local hunter viewing the first ever photos of the then newly discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    Saw Soe Aung (left) with That Nhei Aung and a local hunter viewing the first ever photos of the then newly discovered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey © Jeremy Holden / Fauna & Flora

    2010

    Launch of Myanmar programme that has seen the discovery of over 100 new species, including a multitude of geckos and the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey, whose montane haven has since been declared a national park.

    Marianne Teoh and student conducting seagrass surveys in Cambodia. © Paul Colley

    Marianne Teoh and student conducting seagrass surveys in Cambodia. © Paul Colley

    2011

    Birth of dedicated marine programme that now works with communities across nearly 80 marine and coastal sites worldwide.

    Microbeads. © MPCA

    Microbeads. © MPCA

    2018

    Fauna & Flora and coalition partners secure UK ban on plastic microbeads, reducing a major source of ocean pollution.

2022: Bringing magnolias back from the brink

Since Fauna & Flora first intervened in 2014, we’ve planted over 5,000 seedlings of the critically endangered Magnolia grandis, boosting the wild population of this iconic flowering tree, which was down to fewer than 250 mature specimens.

Magnolia grandis. © Hieu Nguyen, Centre for Plant Conservation Vietnam

Magnolia grandis. © Hieu Nguyen, Centre for Plant Conservation Vietnam

Magnolia grandis, one of several wild magnolia species that Fauna & Flora has helped rescue from extinction.

Saiga on the move. © Nikolay Denisov / Adobe Stock

2023: A conservation powerhouse ready for the next challenge

Fauna & Flora now contributes to the conservation of more than 55 million hectares of vital habitat – an area the size of France – at 335 sites in nearly 50 countries. We have ambitious plans to help combat the existential threats to our planet posed by widespread biodiversity loss and climate meltdown, and 2024 will provide the launchpad for a suite of activities aimed at tackling this challenge head on.

Help us do more to save nature, together

Saiga on the move. © Nikolay Denisov / Adobe Stock