American Bird Conservancy invests in on-the-ground conservation for the Townsend’s Shearwater and other endangered species
(Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019)Today, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) announced awards totaling $100,000 to restore important seabird nesting colonies in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. The awards will leverage additional matching funds, putting a total of $243,000 on the ground for direct conservation. Through this effort, ABC and partners are investing in the future of some of the Western Hemisphere’s most imperiled seabirds, including the Townsend’s Shearwater, Guadalupe Murrelet, Ashy Storm-Petrel, Townsend’s Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, and Black-capped Petrel These species are listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Some of the nesting sites where the projects will occur are globally recognized for their unique biodiversity through the Alliance for Zero Extinction.
These restoration grants, the first of their kind offered by ABC, address an urgent need for increased investment in capacity for seabird restoration, particularly in South America, where 38 globally threatened seabirds occur amidst unaddressed and growing threats, such as introduced predators.
Support for local initiatives is a key focus of these awards. “We are pleased to provide funds to dedicated local conservationists, many of whom are the only individuals or groups working to protect seabirds in their countries,” says Hannah Nevins, ABC’s Seabird Program Director.
“For species such as the Black-capped Petrel few nesting sites have been found, so it is critical to protect each and every known site. The clock is ticking loudly for this species. Adult birds return every year to the same burrow and are subject to an onslaught of threats — human disturbance, agricultural encroachment, forest fires, and nonnative predators,” says Nevins.
Seabirds are among the most imperiled groups of birds. About one-third of seabird species are in decline worldwide due the above-mentioned threats, along with sea-level rise, reduction of prey due to overfishing, and fisheries bycatch. Most seabirds nest on or under the ground in burrows, where they are especially vulnerable to nonnative predators, including feral cats, mongooses, rats, and mice.
“Through these awards, ABC seeks to promote the kind of coordinated, large-scale efforts needed to conserve seabird nesting colonies,” added Dr. George Wallace, ABC’s Threatened Species Conservation Officer. “The goal is to ensure that our children will see these magnificent species persist into the next century and beyond.”
American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
New IUCN Red List Assessment Classifies Snow Leopards as ‘Vulnerable’ to Extinction, One Step Up From ‘Endangered’
September 14, 2017
New York, NY – The mysterious snow leopard has been delivered a piece of good news. The Red List classification from the International Union for Conservation of Nature–IUCN–improves the conservation status of the big cat from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable.” Yet, these iconic symbols of Asia’s great mountain wilderness still face numerous threats, many rapidly growing, in their high mountain home.
The snow leopard was listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List–the globally accepted, international standard for assessing extinction risk—for each 5-10 year assessment since its initial listing in 1972. The change in status came after a three-year assessment process by five international experts including scientists from academia and from Panthera, Snow Leopard Conservancy, and Wildlife Conservation Society, organizations active in snow leopard conservation. The assessment was then reviewed and approved by eight international felid and Red List assessments experts, the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment team, and the central Red List Unit.
Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program and a member of the assessment team, said, “To be considered ‘Endangered,’ there must be fewer than 2,500 mature snow leopards and they must be experiencing a high rate of decline. Both are now considered extremely unlikely, which is the good news, but it does not mean that snow leopards are ‘safe’ or that now is a time to celebrate. The species still faces ‘a high risk of extinction in the wild’ and is likely still declining–just not at the rate previously thought.”
The assessment cites a number of recent studies that used more scientifically robust methods than in the past and which suggest snow leopard numbers are likely higher than previously thought. Dr. Rodney Jackson, Founder and Director of the Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) and another member of the assessment team, said, “Even with such positive supportive information, the assessment team took a conservative approach, including using the lowest estimated global population size of 4,000 when determining if the Endangered threshold could be met.”
One of the reasons that snow leopard status has improved is greatly increased conservation efforts. Dr. David Mallon, snow leopard expert and member of the assessment team, points out that in the last few decades there has been a significant increase in the number of protected areas within the snow leopard range. The species’ range is extensive, and covers more than 1.8 million square kilometers of mountain habitat in 12 range countries across Asia.
Dr. Jackson stressed that local initiatives such as community ranger monitoring efforts and the building of predator-proof corrals to control conflict over livestock losses are helping to protect the cats from retaliatory killing in many locations.
The snow leopard is the top predator of the world’s greatest mountain chains–the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Tien Shan, Altai, and other mountain regions of Asia. Unfortunately, even in these near-inaccessible mountains, the snow leopard faces numerous threats.
“Continuing threats include poaching for its thick fur and overhunting of its wild prey,” said Peter Zahler, Coordinator of the WCS Snow Leopard Program and also on the assessment team. “There is also an increasing number of domestic livestock raised by local people in these high mountains that degrades the delicate grasslands, disturbs wild sheep and goats and drives them into less productive habitats.” Zahler pointed out that this can also lead to disease outbreaks in wild sheep and goats due to transmission of novel pathogens from their domestic counterparts. “The loss of wild prey can lead to attacks on domestic stock, which itself can lead to retaliatory killing of snow leopards by local shepherds,” Zahler said.
Zahler added, “It is important that a change in status is not misinterpreted–this change does not mean that the snow leopard has been ‘saved’ and efforts on its behalf can stop. The IUCN’s Vulnerable status means a species is still vulnerable to extinction, and the snow leopard population is still believed to be in decline and facing a high risk of extinction. Threats–poaching, habitat destruction, loss of prey species–still exist and new threats such as roads, border fences, and climate change, are increasing. So conservation actions must continue and be increased to conserve the species.”
Read Panthera's Q&A on this news.
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 36 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org.
About Snow Leopard Conservancy
SLC, founded in 2000 by Dr. Rodney Jackson and Ms. Darla Hillard, aims to secure the survival of the snow leopard, by conserving its mountain habitat, enhancing local livelihoods and alleviating the human-wildlife conflict which threatens its existence. By blending traditional knowledge with modern science, SLC works in partnership with local people, to increase environmental awareness, advance grassroots conservation initiatives and involve them in non-invasive monitoring of snow leopards. By developing an appreciation for this wild cat, the ultimate goal of the Conservancy is to turn conflict into coexistence. Visit snowleopardconservancy.org.
About Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. WCS has been a global leader on snow leopard conservation since the 1970s, with current programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org.
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
Oakland, CA …October 19, 2016 – Oakland Zoo has bred almost three thousand Puerto Rican Crested Toad tadpoles which today zookeepers are packaging for the cargo hold of a Delta airlines flight to Puerto Rico tonight to be released into the wild. The species was thought to be extinct from 1931 to 1966 – and is now listed as Critically Endangered by the International Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The Puerto Rican Crested Toad (PRCT) was once common throughout Puerto Rico and Virgin Gorda. Unfortunately, habitat loss and the introduction of the non-native animals have almost decimated the species.
In 1984, in an effort to save them from extinction, PRCT were the first amphibians to receive Species Survival Plan (SSP) status through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In coordination with US Fish & Wildlife and the University of Puerto Rico, captive PRCTs are bred each year at Zoos and tadpoles are sent to Puerto Rico for release into closely monitored ponds in Guanica National Forest.
“The tadpoles that have been bred at Oakland Zoo this year will have a significant impact on this critically endangered species. It’s been a fantastic effort and pleasure to work together with other AZA Zoos on this program to help protect this species - the only toad species native to Puerto Rico,” said Adam Fink, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.
Joining the program in 2014, Oakland Zoo, along with three other AZA (Association of Zoo and Aquariums) accredited Zoos, have bred PRCTs in unison this season and their offspring is being flown tonight via commercial airline to Puerto Rico where they will be released into man-made, closely-monitored ponds in the Guanica National Forest of Puerto Rico in hopes of restoring their population in the region.
Last year Oakland Zoo bred and shipped 732 tadpoles for the program. This year, in today’s shipment, close to three thousand have been bred. Other Zoos participating in the program are Disney’s Animal Kingdom, North Carolina Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo.
For high-res photos and video click here: https://www.dropbox.com/PRCT
For more information, please go to: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Puerto_Rican_Crested_Toad.php
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO
The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: www.oaklandzoo.org
Oakland Zoo, PO Box 5238 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 9460 United States
Responding to requests to add them to the federal threatened and endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the Louisville cave beetle, Tatum Cave beetle, black mudalia, sicklefin redhorse, Arkansas darter, and highlands tiger beetle do not need such protection. A plant species, Hirst Brothers’ panic grass listing is not warranted as it has been determined that it is not a taxonomically distinct species and does not meet the definition of a species under the Endangered Species Act.
“After investigating these seven species in the field and reviewing the best available science, we determined these species do not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Some species are more abundant than previously thought or do not face a level of threat that would warrant listing. One species needs more scientific study, and another, unfortunately is believed to be extinct. ”
All seven of these species were candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After a thorough review of past and current information, including extensive surveys, they have been removed from the candidate list.
Louisville cave beetle – Historically, this beetle was known to exist in only two caves in Jefferson County, Kentucky: Eleven Jones and Highbaugh Caves. Over the last two years, field surveys have shown the beetle to live in three additional caves: Sauerkraut, Cave Hill, and Cave Creek Caves. Although stressors like human visitation and sedimentation still remain, we have no evidence that these stressors are negatively affecting the populations.
Tatum Cave beetle – This beetle is known to live in a single cave, Tatum Cave, in eastern Marion County, Kentucky. The species has not been seen since 1965 (a period of 51 years) despite multiple intensive surveys of the cave. Based on this and the best available scientific information, we believe the Tatum Cave beetle to be extinct.
Black mudalia – Little is known about this aquatic snail thought to be in the Black Warrior Basin River drainage in Jefferson and Blount counties, Alabama. From the 1800’s until present time, researchers have recorded conflicting biological information regarding this species. In 2016, we learned that two different samples previously identified as the Black mudalia were actually not the same. Before the black mudalia can receive protection, scientists must accurately identify the snail and determine its status and distribution.
Highlands tiger beetle – This beetle occupies open sandy areas of scrub habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge in Polk and Highlands counties, Florida. Habitat loss and fragmentation along the Lake Wale Ridge has been substantial in the last 50 years. Yet, existing protected and suitable habitat under conservation management exists for the species. Recent surveys also indicate that both the distribution and abundance of Highlands tiger beetles throughout its range are greater than originally known. With the amount of available existing suitable habitat, ongoing management actions, documentation of 16 newly identified occupied sites, identification of improved habitat quality, and existing estimated adult beetle count of more than 10,000 individuals in 56 sites, we find this beetle does not need endangered species protection.
Sicklefin redhorse – Though long recognized by the Cherokee, this fish was discovered by science in the early 1990s. It is found in Swain, Jackson, Macon, Clay, and Cherokee counties, North Carolina, and Towns County, Georgia. For several years, it has been the subject of a focused conservation effort by the Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Conservation Fisheries, Inc. An agreement signed earlier this year formalized the partnership and brought in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Duke Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. We find this fish does not need ESA protection based on the stability of existing populations, re-evaluation of threat likely to affect populations in the future, and development of a Candidate Conservation Agreement which ensures continued participation by all stakeholders in a focused effort to address and mitigate potential threats while expanding the range and population health of the species.
Arkansas darter - For nearly 30 years, the Arkansas darter (fish) has been classified as a candidate species, which means there is enough biological information and sufficient threats to protect the fish under the ESA, but other priorities have prevented such a listing. Yet, recent surveys done in areas not studied in years have expanded our knowledge and recorded 80 Arkansas darter populations in three unique areas, including high plains, mixed grass prairie, and Ozark Plateau, spread across its multi-state range from eastern Colorado, southwest and central Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and into Arkansas. This additional information proves the Arkansas darter is resilient to threats, and with such high population numbers, makes federal protection not warranted.
Hirst Brothers’ panic grass - Hirst Brothers’ panic grass has been in some form of consideration for ESA listing since 1975. Over time, we collectively have learned a lot about the plant, and new information helps put other older information into context and sometimes leads us to a different understanding from that of the past. We recognize and appreciate the long standing efforts of the Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, Camp Lejeune North Carolina staff and other botanists to protect and restore the Hirst Brothers’ panic grass and its habitat. Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial information, Dichanthelium hirstii is not a taxonomically distinct species and does not meet the definition of a species under the ESA. The Service’s decision should not be interpreted as indicating that the Hirst Brothers’ panic grass is not worth conserving. Rather this is a decision that reflects the accurate implementation of the ESA’s standards. We greatly appreciate all of the hard work that our partners have undertaken to conserve the plant’s diversity.
The ESA allows anyone to petition the Service in an effort to add wildlife to the endangered species list. The recent findings on these seven species come as the Service works through hundreds of requests that have come from outside groups in recent years. For more information on the petition process, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/listing-petition-process.html.
With such a heavy workload, the Service is taking a two-pronged approach of evaluating the petitions as required by law and emphasizing conserving plants and animals before they need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. This has led to a broader, partner-driven effort in the Southeast to use flexibilities within the ESA to put the right conservation in the right places, benefit imperiled species, and reduce regulatory burden.
The Service’s Southeast Region, through an aggressive At-Risk species conservation effort, is strengthening existing partnerships, building new ones, and completing a range of conservation actions with the partners, including better surveys and monitoring. As a result, to date, more than 75 species across the region do not need the ESA’s protection. Another dozen species’ status has improved from endangered to threatened and in some cases, like the Louisiana black bear, the species have been recovered and removed from the list.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/southeast. Connect with us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws, and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.
SAN FRANCISCO – Led by staff from San Francisco Zoo & Gardens, a team of biologists, scientists and conservationists released 62 mountain yellow legged frogs into their native habitat in the Desolation Wilderness of Lake Tahoe Basin on Tuesday, July 12. The release marks the final step in a three-year project seeking to restore the endangered frog to an area where it had been missing for decades due to non-native predators and deadly chytrid fungus.
The now two-year-old frogs were collected as eggs in 2014 in a nearby lake system and raised at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens where they grew to a healthy size. The frogs were inoculated for chytrid in hopes they will survive future exposure to the fungus responsible for nearly wiping out entire populations of this species.
“Releasing the frogs into their native habitat is amazing!” said Jessie Bushell, Director of Conservation at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. “It’s like sending your children off to college, except you want them to swim away and catch a bug.”
42 frogs were released into Tamarack Lake and 20 were released into Lake Lucille. In the future, researchers will study how the inoculated frogs, which are microchipped, fare in the wild compared to those that were not inoculated.
The groundbreaking scientific research and work done by conservation staff at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is important to the survival of the species. Participating agencies include the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL), U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
SF Zoo is in the midst of several frog restoration projects and will aid in the release of more than 100 mountain yellow legged frogs in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park next week.
Photos of the July 12 release: https://goo.gl/photos/1cRyB1G5xoVD3rnEA
Attached Photo: Jessie Bushell, Director of Conservation at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens, releases a mountain yellow legged frog at Lake Lucille in Desolation Wilderness on Tuesday.
About San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
Established in 1929, San Francisco Zoo & Gardens connects people to wildlife, inspires caring for nature and advances conservation action. SF Zoo has been continuously accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1977. An urban oasis, the Zoo & Gardens are home to more than 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals representing more than 250 species as well as seven distinct gardens full of native and unusual plants. Located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean where the Great Highway meets Sloat Boulevard, the Zoo is open 365 days a year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (summer hours) and is accessible by San Francisco MUNI "L" Taraval Line.
Two federal agencies today issued a final rule that will revise the listing for green sea turtles under the Endangered Species Act, including reclassifying turtles originating from two breeding populations from endangered to threatened status due to successful conservation efforts.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will divide the turtles globally into 11 distinct populations segments, allowing for tailored conservation approaches for each population. Three of the segments will be reclassified as endangered, and the rest as threatened. Green sea turtles have been listed as a threatened species, with the exception of the endangered breeding populations, since 1978.
“Successful conservation and management efforts developed in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world," said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Identifying distinct population segments across the green sea turtle’s range provides flexibility for managers to address specific challenges facing individual populations with a tailored approach. Ultimately, this will help us protect and conserve green sea turtles more efficiently and effectively, so that we can achieve our goal of recovering the species.”
Years of coordinated conservation efforts, including protection of nesting beaches, reduction of bycatch in fisheries, and prohibitions on the direct harvest of sea turtles, have led to increasing numbers of turtles nesting in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico. NOAA Fisheries and the Fish and Wildlife Service have reclassified the status of the two segments that include those breeding populations as threatened rather than endangered.
“While threats remain for green sea turtles globally, the reclassification of green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico shows how ESA-inspired partnerships between the federal agencies, states, NGOs and even countries is making a real difference for some of our planet’s most imperiled species,” said Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe.
The agencies reviewed the green sea turtle’s global status to determine the new classifications, taking into account advances in genetic studies and telemetry and tagging data, as well as more than 900 public comments on the proposal. The reclassification into distinct population segments allows managers to take a more targeted approach to the specific threats facing different populations, while maintaining federal protections for all turtles.
Significant challenges remain to conserving and restoring green sea turtle populations around the world. Primary threats to green sea turtles include fisheries bycatch, habitat alteration, harvest of turtles and eggs, and disease. Development and rising seas from climate change are also leading to the loss of critical nesting beach habitat for green sea turtles. The agencies and partners continue to study green sea turtles to ensure that conservation and management decisions are driven by the best available science.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with them through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.
The science behind sea turtle research and management: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2014/10/10_30_14sea_turtle_skeletons.html
Bycatch prevention and sea turtles: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/fisheries_eco/bycatch/index.html
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.
New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader, says Born Free CEO
Washington, DC, August 5, 2014 – Governor Chris Christie signed S. 2012 into law today, ending the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in New Jersey. This bill, introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) and endorsed by Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, sets a historic precedent for state action on the devastating wildlife parts trade.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader on these issues. This new law is of particular importance because the port of Newark is a hub for illegal wildlife trade. The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially, so we have no time to waste in enacting legislation. I hope that other states will follow this example. We are grateful to Governor Christie for signing this bill into law.”
The new law entirely eliminates the trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn, except where this authority is superseded by federal regulations. Illegal trafficking of these wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the target market.
According to Born Free USA, the elephant poaching crisis has become increasingly severe over the past several years, and it is estimated that more than 86,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012. “If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could be extinct within a decade,” says Roberts. “As proven in our recent groundbreaking report Ivory’s Curse, illegal ivory trafficking is exploited by transnational criminal networks that enable terrorism, weapons, and human trafficking, feeding devastating violence and instability in Africa.”
Assemblyman Mukherji, sponsor of the Assembly bill, said, “Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab, The Lord’s Resistance Army, and Janjaweed, are funding their operations with profits from poaching and the illegal ivory trade. With New Jersey ports serving as a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking and our proximity to New York City, the largest ivory buyer in the country, we as a legislature needed to act now.”
Additionally, all five rhino species are in serious danger due to poaching. Africa’s black rhinos are critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 5,000. There are only 3,000 one-horned rhinos remaining in India and Nepal, and Southeast Asia’s Sumatran and Javan rhinos number only in the hundreds and tens, respectively. The horns, made of a substance akin to fingernails, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite conclusive evidence that they have no curative properties, hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns every year.
Senator Lesniak, a leader in wildlife trafficking legislation, stated, “Illegal ivory threatens the very existence of elephants on the face of the earth. We know [this bill] will be an inspiration to other states, Congress, and indeed other countries in the world to follow our lead.”
Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org,www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
Born Free USA CEO weighs in on CITES meeting July 7 to 11
Washington, D.C., June 25, 2014 -- Citizens from all 180 nations represented at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will monitor the upcoming deliberations of the CITES Standing Committee in Geneva (July 7 to 11, 2014) where decision-makers and politicians will meet to debate the future of some of the planet’s most threatened species.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and acting CEO of Born Free Foundation, “CITES delegates have an amazing opportunity in Geneva to address the issues of endangered species conservation – the startling statistics of the wildlife trade will surely make anyone’s blood run cold.”
Roberts explains, “As many as 50,000 elephants were gunned down for their ivory tusks last year. The horn of a rhinoceros, coveted for its alleged medicinal properties, is fetching $60,000 a kilo on the black-market, leading to unabated slaughter. The demand for tiger body parts is causing population decimation, with just 3,500 remaining in the wild. All of these issues and more require urgent attention from CITES.”
Organized criminal syndicates, money laundering, and corruption mean that tackling the illegal trade in these vulnerable species is highly complex. Ivory’s Curse, a recent report commissioned by Born Free USA, highlights alarming links between government-led militias, terrorist groups, and elephant poaching.
Elephants: “Born Free’s delegation will be calling on CITES to suspend debates about future legalized trade in elephant ivory,” explains Roberts. “Experiments to allow ivory trade in recent years have failed appallingly. Africa’s elephants are worse off today than ever before. I strongly believe this is a direct result of the international community’s failure to maintain a strong and comprehensive ban on any ivory trade. We need proactive measures such as those adopted in the Elephant Protection Initiative; ivory stockpile destruction; investment in enforcement; and we must demand eradication.”
Asian elephants will be in the spotlight at CITES, with calls for action to be taken against the illegal capture and smuggling of wild-caught infant elephants into the “domestic trade” where they are brutally trained before being touted for unsuspecting tourists to ride. There is an urgent call for domestic laws to be strengthened and enforced to prevent the laundering of illegal animals into the legal marketplace.
Cheetahs: Another strong focus for Born Free will be the illegal trade in cheetahs, which are being smuggled live out of the Horn of Africa. Earlier this year, CITES agreed to organize a multi-stakeholder workshop to address this problem, an initiative that Born Free fully supports.
Tigers: When it comes to tiger issues at CITES, the problems are all too clear. Roberts says, “Repeated requests for information from governments regarding the measures being taken to address tiger conservation have resulted in inadequate responses, at best. This has severely hampered further action by CITES, but aside from that it has become patently obvious that tigers captive bred in Thailand, Laos, China and Vietnam are feeding into the illegal domestic and international trade.”
There are now over 6,500 tigers in these horrendous “farms,” supplying a market which in turn fuels further poaching of the world’s remaining 3,500 wild tigers. Once again Born Free will do its utmost to ensure this issue gets priority attention at July’s meeting and that a serious commitment is made, as required, to stockpile destruction and closure of these notorious ‘tiger farms’.
Rhinos: Another pressing issue remains the plight of wild rhinos, victims of high levels of poaching for their horns. In 2013, over 1,000 rhino were poached in South Africa alone, and so far this year the deadly total has exceeded 440. While the Standing Committee will be considering a number of measures designed to close existing trade loopholes, many, including Born Free, are calling for a complete ban on all trade, including trophies, and the destruction of rhino horn stockpiles.
“CITES has a mammoth task on its hands, and while talk is good, it is now time for resolute action before it’s too late,” says Will Travers OBE, President of Born Free. “We need to give imperiled species such as rhinos, elephants, tigers and cheetahs a fighting chance. For some species the notion that they can, in some way, continue to endure the added pressure of controlled or limited legal trade while numbers continue to plummet is an idea that has lost credibility. The time for experimenting with the exploitation of our natural wildlife heritage is over. CITES is uniquely placed to take a leading role and to act in the best interests of these and many other species, rather than the financial interests of wildlife poachers and profiteers.”
The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
Eagles and Endangered Kirtland’s Warbler Among the Turbine’s Likely Casualties
(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2014) The Ohio National Guard facility at Camp Perry, near Port Clinton in northern Ohio, is the focus of possible legal action by American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading national bird conservation organization, and Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), which today announced the intention to sue the Ohio National Guard in connection with violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other federal laws concerning the planned installation of a wind turbine on the shores of Lake Erie.
The two groups announced their intention to sue via a letter sent by the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal (MGC), stating that the environmental review process was unlawfully circumvented, and that the development is taking place in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.
“The proposed development of wind power at Camp Perry ignores the many concerns expressed by wildlife professionals in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR),” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “If completed, this turbine would sit in the middle of a major bird migration corridor directly adjacent to a national wildlife refuge. The FWS has concluded it is likely to kill threatened and endangered bird species such as the Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as other federally protected birds. We are asking the developer to immediately halt construction and take the steps mandated by federal law to prevent the illegal killing of protected species.”
ABC and BSBO consider the placement of the Camp Perry facility to present an extremely high risk to migrating songbirds, especially the federally endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. This imperiled species was nearly extinct less than 40 years ago and, while rebounding due to costly and intensive management efforts, still numbers only in the low thousands. Additional birds at risk include other migrating songbirds, raptors, Bald Eagles, and waterfowl.
According to Mark Shieldcastle, BSBO Research Director: “Long-term research indicates that some of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in North America occur in the Lake Erie coastal region, including Camp Perry. These species, along with one of the highest concentrations of nesting Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, use the habitat precisely in the risk zone of turbines such as the one proposed. Long-term monitoring of the active eagle nest at the facility indicates extensive use of the area of the turbine by eagles.” Shieldcastle bases his statement on more than three decades of migratory bird research in the area, including as project leader for both wetland wildlife research and Bald Eagle recovery programs for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Camp Perry, where wind development is currently progressing, is in the "red zone" of ABC's Wind Development Bird Risk Map, indicating an extreme risk to birds. The red area that crosses Lake Erie is a high-density migration corridor.
“The developers have misled the public about these federal and state concerns,” said Kimberly Kaufman, Director of the BSBO. “This project is the vanguard of a major planned build-out of wind power in what is one of the nation’s greatest songbird migration bottlenecks and a key site for birding and bird tourism. It potentially sets a horrific precedent.”
ABC has created a Wind Development Bird Risk Map that shows the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio is among the worst possible locations for a wind power project. The configuration of water and land serves to “funnel” large numbers of protected migratory birds through a small area; the birds aim to avoid a long lake crossing by hugging the shoreline or following the shortest cross-water route to the Pelee Peninsula to the north. This is also major stopover habitat, where migrating birds are not merely flying over, but landing and taking off—often during poor weather conditions.
According to Kenn Kaufman, internationally acclaimed author of bird field guides and a local resident, “This funneling effect and stopover behavior can be predicted to put migrating birds precisely in the vicinity of the Camp Perry turbine and other wind energy sites proposed for the area.”
Those concerns have been echoed by FWS, which in a letter to Camp Perry cautioned that there is a high probability of bird mortality caused by turbine strikes from the project and called for a formal Endangered Species Act consultation. That request was ignored by Camp Perry officials. Further, the ODNR cited 23 significant areas of deficiency in the original Environmental Assessment. ODNR also specifically raised concerns about impacts to Kirtland’s Warbler and eagles.
“Unfortunately, the problems with this project suggest that the current voluntary federal guidelines aimed at minimizing impacts to migratory birds are flawed. If we cannot even trust the government’s own agencies to follow them, then it is time for a change to a mandatory permitting system,” noted Dr. Hutchins.
Also of concern to local residents and the birding community is the fact that the area hosts one of the largest birding events in the United States, helping to attract tens of thousands of people annually and injecting $37 million into the local economy.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. www.abcbirds.org
Black Swamp Bird Observatory is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit whose mission is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment, and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education, and outreach. www.bsbobird.org
WASHINGTON D.C. (AUGUST 8, 2013) – To generate awareness for the plight of the African lion and the distinct possibility that the species could disappear from the wild within our lifetime, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joins wildlife groups around the globe in celebrating the inaugural World Lion Day 2013 on Saturday, August 10. World Lion Day is the first global campaign of its kind to impress the biological, cultural and economic importance of the lion and the urgent need to protect the species.
While the popular imagination holds the lion as a symbol of courage and power, African lion populations are plummeting due to a number of factors including loss of habitat, human-wildlife conflict, and trophy hunting. The number of African lions has declined by more than 50 percent in the past three decades. The most recent evidence shows that as few as 32,000 lions are left in the wild, and many experts believe there to be far fewer.
IFAW views trophy hunting as a particularly pernicious—and needless—threat to African lion populations. Trophy hunting targets the healthiest members of the lion population and creates unsustainable pressures on the species. Approximately 600 lions are killed every year in trophy hunts and approximately 60 percent of all lions killed for sport in Africa are imported to the United States as trophies.
To help alleviate the threat of hunting on the species, IFAW, along with a coalition of other wildlife groups, petitioned the U.S. government in 2011 to list African lions as an Endangered Species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
“World Lion Day 2013 is an important opportunity to stress African lions’ dire situation, and expose the unnecessary threat trophy hunting poses,” said Jeff Flocken, North America Regional Director, IFAW. “Classifying the African lion as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act would send a message that this magnificent but imperiled animal is dying for sport at the hands of wealthy Americans, and the U.S. government will no longer add this to the many threats lions already face.”
Currently, lions are the only great cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Safeguarding the future of the African lion would not only conserve a beloved species, but it would also work to preserve a vital sector of Africa’s tourism economy. The lion’s symbolic significance translates to real-world economics. A study commissioned by IFAW found that African countries and rural communities derive very little benefit from trophy hunting revenue. By depleting the beloved species, trophy hunters jeopardize non-consumptive nature tourism, such as wildlife viewing and photo safaris. These non-consumptive nature tourism activities contribute much more to African economies than trophy hunting.
As a portion of any national economy, trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting – an insignificant amount, especially when you consider that local communities receive a mere 3 percent of overall trophy hunting revenues.
To learn more about World Lion Day, visit http://worldlionday.com/the-campaign/. For more information about IFAW’s campaign to list the African Lion as an endangered species, visit
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
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.