MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - World Animal Day, first marked in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy, is celebrated on Saturday.
October 4 was not chosen at random; it is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), three animal species disappear off the face of the Earth every hour; 70 varieties of flora and fauna disappear every day; a quarter of the world's varieties of flora and fauna will become extinct in the very near future; and in the past 25 years, the world's biodiversity has shrunk by one third.
In Russia, the day, which is intended to raise public awareness about the plight of endangered species, including those on the verge of extinction, has been observed since 2000.
In Russia, the Russian Federation Red Book of Endangered Species is the most important mechanism of protecting animals that are on the verge of extinction. The Russian Red Book lists 413 animal species, including 155 species of invertebrates (0.1 percent of the total number of invertebrates described on Russian territory) and 258 species of vertebrates, including 41 species of cyclostomes and fish (seven percent of the total number of cyclostomes and fish in Russia), eight species of amphibians (30 percent), 21 species of reptiles (28 percent), 123 species of birds (17 percent) and 65 species of mammals (20 percent). Currently, more than 70 Russian regions have published their own red books.
The largest numbers of rare and endangered animal, plant and fungus species are concentrated in the Caucasus, south Siberia, and the Russian Far East.
Preservation strategies for the following specific rare and endangered animal species have been developed and are being implemented: the Amur tiger, the Far Eastern leopard, the snow leopard, the polar bear, the bison and the Sakhalin musk deer. A program for the restoration (reintroduction) of the Persian leopard in the Caucasus is underway.
In February 2014, a strategy for the preservation of rare and endangered animal, plant and fungus species in the Russian Federation through 2030 was approved.
To ensure the protection of animals and their habitat, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is amending the environmental legislation. Federal laws are being adopted and improved, which are meant to fundamentally change people's attitude toward the environment, including the ones On Wildlife, On Hunting, On Specially Protected Natural Territories, etc.
World Animal Day traditionally features a variety of activities and charity events.