Happy 110th birthday to Fauna & Flora International!

11 December 2013 is a special day for Fauna & Flora International (FFI) staff as we celebrate our 110th anniversary. As the world’s oldest international conservation organisation, we have achieved some remarkable things over the years – take a look at our interactive timeline below for some of the highlights.

None of these achievements would have been possible without our supporters, so we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help, be it donating to our appeals or sharing our news with your friends and family.

If you have not yet signed up as a member, now would be a good time – join by 31 December and you will receive a copy of our special anniversary issue of Fauna & Flora magazine, which features an interview with FFI vice-president Sir David Attenborough.

You can also help us celebrate by donating to our 110th Anniversary Appeal.

The origins of Fauna & Flora International

At the turn of the 20th Century, the idea of conservation had not really yet been born. Very few people were aware of the threats to wildlife posed by human activity, and even fewer knew of the declines taking place in Africa and elsewhere. But all that was about to change.

On 11 December 1903 – just six days before the Wright brothers made aviation history in Kitty Hawk – a much quieter, but equally momentous, revolution was about to take place. Inside London’s grand and cavernous Natural History Museum, a group of notable naturalists, statesmen and businessmen formally launched the Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire.

In a circular sent to its founding members, the Society outlined its mission: “The great object of the association is to further the formation of game reserves or sanctuaries, the selection of the most suitable places, and the enforcing of suitable game laws and regulations.”

At this time, the British Empire covered around a quarter of the globe, so this nascent group had effectively set in motion the international conservation movement.

The fledgling Society boasted an illustrious membership that included Lord Salisbury, Edward North Buxton, the Duke of Bedford, Samuel H Whitbread and US President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1929, HRH The Prince of Wales became the Society’s first royal patron. His successor, HM King George VI, continued this tradition – a legacy that is still in place, with HM Queen Elizabeth II the royal patron of Fauna & Flora International (as the Society is now known) today.

Minutes from FFI's first meeting. Credit: Roger Ingle/FFI.

Minutes from FFI's first official meeting in 1903. Credit: Roger Ingle/FFI.

Although many of its members were advocates of game hunting, they were deeply concerned about the decline in game species they were observing. In the intervening decades, Fauna & Flora International and its members played a hand in the formation of many of the world’s most famous nature reserves (such as Kruger National Park in South Africa and Corbett National Park in India), and in the creation and development of the world’s leading conservation infrastructure and organisations, including IUCN, WWF, CITES and TRAFFIC.

What began as efforts to protect game for hunting turned, by degrees, to conservation for the sake of other species and the wider environment.

To this date FFI continues to work behind the scenes, supporting local communities and organisations to ensure that biodiversity is effectively conserved by the people who live closest to it. Today, our work spans over 40 countries around the globe, contributing to the conservation of more than 43.8 million hectares of important habitat and supporting the management of over 204 sites.