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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : February 2002 : Elephant, Rhino, Tiger Conservation Laws Reauthorized

Elephant, Rhino, Tiger Conservation Laws Reauthorized


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.



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