World Wildlife Day International Youth Art Contest Awards Poonyisa Sodsai of Thailand as 2023 Winner

World Wildlife Day International Youth Art Contest Awards Poonyisa Sodsai of Thailand as 2023 Winner

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — With a piece depicting the beautiful hornbill, 13-year-old Poonyisa Sodsai from Thailand has been selected from over 1,100 entries received from over 80 countries as winner of the World Wildlife Day 2023 International Youth Art Contest.

Under the theme “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation,” this year marks the fifth annual contest held in conjunction with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day, an annual celebration to raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. Poonyisa received official recognition as part of today’s celebration at the headquarters of National Geographic. The award was introduced by renowned actress, author and activist Alicia Silverstone.

This year’s theme highlighted species that have benefited from people working together to protect them. The contest tapped into the creativity of global youth artists, encouraging them to showcase how collective action makes a difference for the planet—from working within local communities to help native species all the way to scientists, governments and wildlife groups working together across the globe to bring about change.

Through vibrant artworks that depict a stunning range of ecosystems and endangered wildlife, twelve semi-finalists from four different age groups were selected by a panel of judges which included representatives from IFAW, CITES, and UNDP, and guest judges including celebrated syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey, actress Alicia Silverstone, Chief Brand Officer & Creative Director for Munchkin, Inc. Diana Barnes (db), Jackson Wild Executive Director Lisa Samford and last year’s art contest winner, Yanjun Mao, from China.

In total, four youths across varying age categories were also honored for their wildlife art:

  • Age 4-6: Puttipat Sakoldiloke, Thailand, Whale, Age 6
  • Age 7-10: Shiven Sidharth, India, Tiger, Age 9
  • Age 11-14: Poonyisa Sodsai, Thailand, Hornbill, Age 13
  • Age 15-18: Ilya Shchekotov, Germany, Tiger, Age 18

“As we face a time of mass species extinction, partnerships and joint action are even more critical to saving thousands of species. Every partnership matters and has the power to make a lifesaving impact,” said Danielle Kessler, US Director of IFAW. “We’re in awe of the sheer talent of these young artists, and their beautiful depictions of species whose survival has been assisted by people working together in partnership to prevent its extinction. Congratulations to all the participants, finalists, and this year’s winner, Poonyisa, for contributing such amazing pieces.”

“I’m very pleased to congratulate our winner Poonyisa,” said CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero, “and I would also like to recognize the commitment and talent of all our entrants. It is immensely rewarding to see so many young people, from so many countries, engage with this year’s theme of “partnerships for wildlife conservation. It is clear that they understand and appreciate the value of partnerships and how fundamental collaboration is to solving the conservation challenges of our time.”

“UNDP would like to extend our deepest congratulations to Poonyisa,” said Midori Paxton, Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “The vibrancy of her painting is extraordinary and communicates the awesome beauty of wildlife so vividly.”

The winning artwork as well as all the finalist’s entries are currently viewable on the IFAW website.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

IFAW: Abby Cohen (Rosen Group) at +1 973-224-0403 or [email protected] 
CITES: David Whitbourn at +41 79 477 0806 or [email protected] 
UNDP: Sangita Khadka at +1 212 906 5043 or [email protected]

About IFAW
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans, and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed in on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. With 183 Parties (182 countries + the European Union) it remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of international trade in over 36,000 species of wild animals and plants. CITES-listed species are used by people around the world in their daily lives for food health care, furniture, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in such species is sustainable, legal and traceable and contributes to both the livelihoods of the communities that live closest to them and to national economies for a healthy planet and the prosperity of the people, in support to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

About UNDP
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

About the United Nations’ World Wildlife Day
On 20 December 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The date is the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. World Wildlife Day has quickly become the most prominent global annual event dedicated to wildlife. It is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the various challenges faced by these species. The day also reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare

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