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COMMENTARY: For World Wildlife Day, ask your U.S. senators to support the END Wildlife Trafficking Act

March 3, 2016 Leave a comment
World Wildlife Day logo 2016

World Wildlife Day is celebrated each year on March 3. This official logo was designed by volunteers Amaya Delmas, Elena Hasnas and Stephen Bwire. Others can be seen at http://www.wildlifeday.org/content/outreach-material#Logos.

Today is World Wildlife Day. While it is certainly a day to revel in the amazing variety of animals that walk, swim, and fly on Earth, it also a day to ponder the growing threat to the survival of many of those species.

The list of iconic animals who are at risk of extinction because of humanity’s actions is shockingly long. There are too many species to mention here, but the roster of the imperiled includes all the great apes except for us, nearly all the big cats, elephants, rhinos, and sharks.

This video makes clear how poaching, in particular, threatens African elephants:

As a way of celebrating this day, the author of this blog suggests that you urge your U.S. senators to support the proposed Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act. The bill takes direct aim at poaching, which is the leading hazard to many of the wildlife species at risk of extinction as well as a danger to national security because it helps to finance terrorism.

The bill would accomplish these objectives:

  • Require the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking to work with the governments of countries affected by wildlife poaching and trafficking on an analysis of the threats each country faces, and to put together a plan with recommendations on how to address these threats;
  • Authorize a variety of assistance programs available to the Secretary of State, the USAID Administrator, and other relevant agency heads to address poaching and wildlife trafficking problems, including strengthening training for law enforcement and wildlife rangers in impacted countries, supporting capacity for investigations and border inspections, strategies to encourage community-based conservation programs, and others;
  • Promote bilateral agreements and international cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking and reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products; and
  • Include rigorous reporting requirements to monitor progress made on stemming the tide of poaching and trafficking in countries of concern, and to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.

S. 2385 must be reported favorably by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee before it can receive a vote from all senators. No committee hearing on the bill has been scheduled. If approved by the Senate, the legislation would then have to be adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives before being sent to the President for his approval.

The proposed END Wildlife Trafficking Act is supported by the African Wildlife Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States, TRAFFIC, Tsavo Conservation Group, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.

A similar bill, the proposed Global Anti-Poaching Act, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last November.

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