Washington, D.C. (December 21, 2016) – As the Obama Administration prepares to hand over the reins of the executive branch to President-elect Donald Trump, the Endangered Species Coalition released on Wednesday a “Top Ten” list of imperiled species in need of strong conservation measures. The report, “Removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration,” highlights some of the most significant threats to vanishing wildlife, including the African elephant, and identifies important actions the next administration could take to slow their rates of extinction.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Humane Society International (HSI) nominated the African elephant to the list. African elephant populations have declined 60 percent since 1978, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The steep decline is largely a result of habitat loss, poaching, commercial exploitation, trophy hunting, human-elephant conflict, regional conflict and instability and climate change. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, 100,000 were killed for their tusks.
IFAW and HSI have worked in concert with other wildlife groups to provide the African elephant with more protections at the international, federal and state levels, including petitioning to list them as endangered under the ESA – which resulted in a positive 90-day finding earlier this year, meaning the government believes an endangered listing may be warranted—as well as advocating for state ivory bans in New York, New Jersey, California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii.
“IFAW and HSI nominated the African elephant for the report because the species is at a tipping point,’ said Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW. “If we can build on the achievements of the past several years, we can pull it back from the brink – but if we fail to do so, we may be signing a warrant for extinction from the wild.”
Iris Ho, Wildlife Program Manager for Humane Society International, said: “The survival of the African elephant in the wild is in our hands. The responsibility to safeguard the species from poaching and wildlife trafficking is as much upon our generation as upon the United States, a global conservation leader. It's an ecological responsibility that should transcend national borders, cultures and political affiliations. We urge the incoming Trump administration and elected officials to join us in saving the last remaining African elephants.”
During the current administration, substantial progress has been made to further protect elephants by strengthening domestic U.S. ivory regulations, which set a high global standard and help prevent the United States from being a trafficking hub. This report urges the incoming administration to continue to enforce these regulations, resist congressional action to weaken these rules, work with other countries to curb trafficking and provide vital funding for USFWS, USAID and other agencies to engage in these efforts.
The remaining species featured in the Endangered Species Coalition’s report include the Jaguar, Yellow-faced Bee, Greater Sage-Grouse, Snake River Salmon, Joshua Tree, Elkhorn Coral, Bald Cypress, Vaquita and Wolves.
Endangered Species Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with links to photos and additional species information, can be viewed and downloaded from the website, http://removingthewallstorecovery.org.
The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Humane Society International
Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.