Petitioning US government to protect ALL leopards
Today, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International, the Center for Biological Diversity and IFAW Honorary Board Member Dr. Jane Goodall, submitted a petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) calling upon the agency to list all leopards as Endangered.
Leopards, which inhabit parts of Africa and Asia (including parts of the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, and the Russian Far East), are currently listed as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act—with the exception of populations in southern Africa, which are categorized as Threatened.
As the iconic cats’ numbers plummet, however, it is critical that they be granted Endangered status throughout their entire range and given enhanced protections under US law. An Endangered listing would limit imports of leopard parts and products and better position the US to partner with range countries to promote the species’ conservation.
Sadly, leopards face many threats to their survival, including significant reductions in habitat and prey availability, unsustainable trophy hunting, poaching, and retaliatory killing in the face of conflicts with humans or livestock.
Alarmingly, the U.S. was responsible for nearly half of the wild leopards killed and placed into international trade in recent years—between 2005 and 2014, the U.S. was the top importer of leopard parts and products, accounting for a whopping 45 percent of all trade during those years. Worse yet, trophy hunting was responsible for nearly all of these imports.
There is, however, still hope for saving and restoring these incredible animals’ populations. The momentous African lion ESA listing underscored the American public’s role in protecting species abroad, turning a tragedy into a conservation and animal welfare victory.
Both internationally and here in the US, momentum has been building to stop the trade in leopard parts and products, and it’s time for FWS to do its part by listing all leopards as Endangered throughout their range.