Wildlife Advocates Seek Endangered Listing for African Elephants

Wildlife Advocates Seek Endangered Listing for African Elephants
Wednesday, 11 February, 2015
Washington, D.C.

– Groups say uplisting species under Endangered Species Act is important tool to fight ivory trade –

Today, a coalition of wildlife groups — the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW; www.ifaw.org), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS, www.humanesociety.org), Humane Society International (HSI, www.hsi.org) and The Fund for Animals (www.fundforanimals.org)— filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to uplist African elephants from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Since the African elephant was originally listed as threatened in 1978, the species’ population has declined by about 60 percent, primarily due to poaching for the ivory trade. Habitat destruction and unsustainable trophy hunting also contributed to the decline. Scientists say elephant mortality is outpacing the natural birth rate, fixing the species in a pattern of ongoing decline.

“African elephants are in very real danger of disappearing from the wild,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW. “U.S. policy for elephants needs an update to reflect the current crisis and declining status of the species. As one of the world’s largest ivory markets and home to many elephant trophy hunters, the U.S. can end our contribution to the slaughter with an Endangered listing. It is the best tool in our domestic policy toolkit to stop our role in elephant deaths and bring global awareness to the crisis.”

The current regulations for African elephants under the threatened listing fail to adequately protect the species from unsustainable trade. An endangered listing would institute restrictions on both domestic and international trade in African elephant parts (including ivory, hunting trophies, skins and other products), and would expand public oversight of such activities. It is generally prohibited to engage in the import of or interstate commerce in Endangered species and their parts, except in limited circumstances that clearly benefit the species, such as for scientific purposes. An analysis in the petition shows that between 2003 and 2012, parts from about 50,000 elephants crossed borders worldwide in legal trade, including over 40,280 whose ivory and tusks were legally traded, and over 10,240 elephants whose parts were imported as trophies into the U.S.

The uplisting petition comes at a significant milestone. One year ago today, the White House announced a National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, which called for new rules to restrict the domestic ivory trade.  The Petitioners will continue to support the Fish & Wildlife Service’s efforts to implement the National Strategy.

“Now is not the time to give up on these iconic, majestic creatures,” said Teresa Telecky, Director of Wildlife, Humane Society International. “The United States has a chance to shutter one of the world’s largest elephant ivory, skin and trophy markets. The positive potential impact of an Endangered listing cannot be overstated.”

About IFAW

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 The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our 60 years of transformational change for animals, and visit us online at humanesociety.org.

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 20 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.

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