Environmental News Service
February 15, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC, February 15, 2002 (ENS) - Three laws aimed at conserving
international wildlife have been passed by Congress and reauthorized
by President George W. Bush, allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to continue federal grant programs for African and Asian
elephants, rhinos and tigers through 2007.
Reauthorization of these acts for another five years will provide
contributions to rhino, tiger and elephant conservation by assisting
cooperative efforts among governments, nongovernmental organizations
and the private sector to work together for a common goal.
Beneficiaries of the funding include African elephants, which now
number about 300,000, and Asian elephants, which number 35,000 to
45,000, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates. Fives species of
rhinos will benefit, their numbers so low that each individual counts
- 60 Javan rhinos, 300 Sumatran rhinos, 2,400 Indian rhinos, 2,600
black rhinos and 10,400 white rhinos.
The world's 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in five remaining subspecies
will also benefit from the conservation funding.
Each act contains new provisions, one of which allows the Secretary
of the Interior to convene an advisory group to assist in carrying
out the Act. The creation of advisory groups permits expanded private
sector involvement in international conservation efforts. This,
in turn, increases the leveraging power of the Fish and Wildlife
Service's (FWS) multinational conservation grant programs.
"These grant programs are relatively small, but as a conservation
investment, they are extremely effective," said FWS Deputy
Director Marshall Jones. "The value of every grant dollar is
multiplied by the efforts of our in-country partners."
This advisory group provision is modeled on similar language in
the recently enacted Great Apes Conservation Act and the Neotropical
Migratory Bird Conservation Act. These five acts are known collectively
as the Multinational Species Conservation Acts.
The programs work by forging partnerships with local communities,
governments and non-governmental organizations in the countries
where the endangered animals are found. In-country partners receive
grants to cover labor and equipment. Under the African Elephant
Conservation Act, the Service has provided $11 million for 123 projects
in 23 African countries since 1990, but the value of the on-the-ground
resources directed at African elephant conservation is actually
five times that amount.
The actual on-the-ground resources directed at tiger and rhino
conservation is nearly twice the $3 million appropriated under the
Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act since 1996. The Asian elephant
conservation grant program, now in its third year, has leveraged
a 1:1 financial match for the $1.9 million worth of appropriations.
Elephants, tigers and rhino numbers are declining due to habitat
loss and poaching. Tigers have also suffered due to a decrease in
available prey, since many of Asia's ungulate species have themselves
declined due to habitat loss and hunting.