Endangered Species Day: A call to champion animals

Much progress has been made in the last year to protect the endangered African Lion. PHOTO: © IFAW/B. HollwegPerhaps it seems a little ironic that we celebrate Endangered Species Day, as the fact that so many animals are endangered in our world is universally tragic.

But we’re proud to be one of the member groups of the Endangered Species Coalition, which today is celebrating the efforts we make to save these animals on this day.

It’s been a busy year for those of us working to protect animals—from tigers in Asia to right whales of the North Atlantic Ocean to elephants worldwide, just to name a few.

Last July, IFAW, along with a coalition of partners, filed a petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list all pangolins as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. (Currently only one of eight pangolin species is listed as Endangered under the Act: the African Temminck’s ground pangolin.)

In March, the USFWS said Endangered Species Act protections may be warranted for the seven species of pangolin, one of the most sought-after and poached wild animals in the world.

In December, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that African lions would be afforded meaningful protections under the US Endangered Species Act, just six months after the killing of Cecil the Lion.

The most important restriction this listing boasts is for the killing of lions purely for sport. This rule would require strict permits for the import of sport-hunted lion trophies, which would only be issued for lions originating from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for the species.

This is significant, because approximately 600 lions are killed every year on trophy hunts and the US is responsible for importing more than half of these.

IFAW was part of a coalition that advocated for the lion in the wake of its dwindling population.

Hopefully, these two species will flourish under ESA protection, as has bald eagles, peregrine falcons, manatees, sea turtles and the gray wolf. The Endangered Species Coalition has a nice roundup of these success stories on its website.

Historically, there have been many attacks on the Endangered Species Act. In the 114th Congress alone, 103 legislative measures, including three species-specific riders in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been introduced that would substantially undermine the ESA.

In March, a coalition of conservation advocates honored Members of US Congress who have supported the protection of imperiled species in the US and abroad, including Senators Cory Booker, Barbara Boxer, Tom Udall and Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as Representatives Don Beyer, Raul Grijalva, Betty McCollum and Niki Tsongas.

They have worked to block anti-ESA riders to appropriations bills, opposed legislative interference with US Fish and Wildlife Service’s science-based listing decisions, and defended protected species and critical habitat.

Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn how everyday actions they can take can help protect animals worldwide. If you want to attend an event near you, go to the Endangered Species Coalition’s event directory

You can also sign petitions on wolves, bears, wolverines among other animals on the coalition’s Take Action page.

IFAW was honored to have hosted a Congressional briefing featuring E.O. Wilson, PhD, a renowned scientist and environmentalists, on the benefits of biodiversity and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) this past Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

The briefing focused on the benefits biodiversity provides in agricultural production, ecosystem services, clean air and water, medicine, and climate regulation.

We must stay vigilante. While we celebrate the successes we’ve had in the past and the progress we’ve made in the present, it is the future we must set our sights on now.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime