[House Hearing, 107 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
H.R. 643, H.R. 645 AND H.R. 700
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
Thursday, March 15, 2001
Serial No. 107-5
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/
Committee address: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah, Chairman
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia, Ranking Democrat Member
Don Young, Alaska, George Miller, California
Vice Chairman Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Louisiana Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Jim Saxton, New Jersey Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Elton Gallegly, California Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee Samoa
Joel Hefley, Colorado Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii
Wayne T. Gilchrest, Maryland Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas
Ken Calvert, California Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey
Scott McInnis, Colorado Calvin M. Dooley, California
Richard W. Pombo, California Robert A. Underwood, Guam
Barbara Cubin, Wyoming Adam Smith, Washington
George Radanovich, California Donna M. Christensen, Virgin
Walter B. Jones, Jr., North Islands
Carolina Ron Kind, Wisconsin
Mac Thornberry, Texas Jay Inslee, Washington
Chris Cannon, Utah Grace F. Napolitano, California
John E. Peterson, Pennsylvania Tom Udall, New Mexico
Bob Schaffer, Colorado Mark Udall, Colorado
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Mark E. Souder, Indiana James P. McGovern, Massachusetts
Greg Walden, Oregon Anibal Acevedo-Vila, Puerto Rico
Michael K. Simpson, Idaho Hilda L. Solis, California
Thomas G. Tancredo, Colorado Brad Carson, Oklahoma
C.L. "Butch" Otter, Idaho Betty McCollum, Minnesota
Tom Osborne, Nebraska
Jeff Flake, Arizona
Dennis R. Rehberg, Montana
Allen D. Freemyer, Chief of Staff
Lisa Pittman, Chief Counsel
Michael S. Twinchek, Chief Clerk
James H. Zoia, Democrat Staff Director
Jeff Petrich, Democrat Chief Counsel
SUBCOMMITTE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland, Chairman
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam, Ranking Democrat Member
Don Young, Alaska Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American
W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Louisiana Samoa
Jim Saxton, New Jersey, Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii
Vice Chairman Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas
Richard W. Pombo, California Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey
Walter B. Jones, Jr., North
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on March 15, 2001................................... 1
Statement of Members:
Faleomavaega, Hon. Eni F.H., a Delegate to Congress from
American Samoa............................................. 12
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 13
Gilchrest, Hon. Wayne, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Maryland.......................................... 1
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 11
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State
of New Jersey.............................................. 13
Prepared statement on H.R. 700........................... 14
Statement of Witnesses:
Berry, John, Executive Director, National Fish and Wildlife
Prepared statement on H.R. 645........................... 51
Foose, Dr. Thomas J., Program Director, International Rhino
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 86
Hemley, Ginette, Vice President for Species Conservation,
World Wildlife Fund........................................ 25
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 27
Jones, Marshall, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 17
Response to questions submitted for the record by The
Honorable Richard Pombo................................ 42
Response to questions submitted for the record by The
Honorable Eni Faleomavaega............................. 46
Kirtland, John, Executive Director for Animal Stewardship,
Feld Entertainment, Inc., Ringling Bros. and Barnum &
Bailey Circus.............................................. 80
Prepared statement on H.R. 700........................... 81
Rapp, James L., Executive Director, Salisbury Zoological Park 20
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 22
Robinson, Dr. John G., Senior Vice President and Director,
International Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society.. 75
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 77
Response to questions submitted by The Honorable Eni
Steuer, Karen, Director, Commercial Exploitation and Trade
Program, International Fund for Animal Welfare............. 65
Prepared statement on H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700... 67
Response to questions submitted by The Honorable Eni
Additional materials supplied:
Text of H.R. 643............................................. 3
Text of H.R. 645............................................. 6
Text of H.R. 700............................................. 9
HEARING ON H.R. 643, THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT CONSERVATION REAUTHORIZATION
ACT OF 2001; H.R. 645, THE RHINOCEROS AND TIGER CONSERVATION
REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2001; AND H.R. 700, THE ASIAN ELEPHANT
CONSERVATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2001
Thursday, March 15, 2001
House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
Committee on Resources
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:04 a.m., in
Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Wayne T.
Gilchrest [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. WAYNE T. GILCHREST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. Gilchrest. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the
first hearing for Fish, Wildlife and Oceans. We look forward to
the hearing today and to the testimony from the witnesses, and
I appreciate all the hard work that my colleague, Jim Saxton,
did while he was Chairman of this Subcommittee for six years,
with the able companionship of Eni Faleomavaega, whose name it
took me a while to pronounce, but I am doing a better job now.
We look forward over the next two years to carrying on the
tradition that was most ably set by these two men who have a
lifelong interest and concern, with strength and compassion, to
preserve the world's resources. This hearing today will focus
to a great extent on all of that.
I was pleased to introduce legislation to reauthorize the
African Elephant and Rhino and Tiger Conservation Funds along
with what Jim and Eni have done in the past. In fact, these
funds represent the only continuous source of money in the
world and they are, to quote the Fish and Wildlife Service,
``not a hand-out, but a helping hand.'' So we will continue in
that tradition as well.
During the past 13 years, the Service has approved 251
conservation grants to assist rhinos, tigers, and elephants in
a number of range countries. The total expenditure of Federal
funds has been $16.7 million, which has been matched by $56.9
million in private money. While the list of approved projects
is lengthy, it represents less than 50 percent of the total
number submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The
need is great and it is essential that these funds are extended
for an additional five years.
Furthermore, I have cosigned a letter to Secretary Gale
Norton supporting a $1 million appropriation for each of the
five accounts under the Multinational Species Conservation
[H.R. 643, H.R. 645, and H.R. 700 follow:]
Mr. Gilchrest. I do this morning look forward to the
testimony from our witnesses. It almost seems like there is
barely this thin thread between extinction and survival, and
the thin thread are those of you and those whom you represent
who have come here to testify, and the little pittance,
although you have used it wisely, of Federal money
I recently completed a book called ``The Sea of
Slaughter,'' by Farley Mowatt, the man famous for ``Never Cry
Wolf,'' in which he describes wildlife to a large extent along
the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada in a historical
perspective from the 1500's--actually, he fixed the date, 1500
to the present, and what happened to the ptarmigan, the golden
eagle, the polar bear, the black bear, the grizzly bear, the
mink, the auk, a myriad of shore birds, and the list goes on,
because of our intrusion in a way that, looking back now, was
ruthless for the slaughter of profit, the habitat loss, the
vast starvation because of habitat loss, and fundamental
stupidity, arrogance, and ignorance.
I have a nephew who is a Presbyterian missionary in
Ethiopia and I saw him recently when he came back to visit. He
said there is a very widespread saying in Ethiopia and it goes
like this: if all you know you learned from your father and
your father is ignorant, what does that make you? It is pretty
profound, not necessarily politically correct, but quite
So we look forward to what we will hear this morning, and
we will do our darnedest to make sure the program not only
survives but gets as near fully funded as possible and expands.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gilchrest follows:]
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WAYNE GILCHREST, CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
Good morning and welcome to our first legislative hearing of the
107th Congress. I am Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and I represent the
1st District of Maryland.
Today's hearing will focus on three wildlife conservation bills
that will extend the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to
undertake grants to conserve the flagship species of African elephants,
Asian elephants, rhinoceros and tigers.
I was pleased to introduce legislation to reauthorize the African
Elephant and Rhino and Tiger Conservation Funds because this small
investment of U.S. money is critical to the long term survival of these
species and the ecosystems where they live. In fact, these funds
represent the only continuous source of money in the world and they are
to quote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not a hand out, but a
During the past thirteen years, the Service has approved 251
conservation grants to assist rhinos, tigers and elephants in a number
of range countries. The total expenditure of Federal funds has been
$16.7 million which has been matched by $56.9 million in private money.
While the list of approved projects is lengthy, it represents less than
50 percent of the total number submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. The need is great and it is essential that these funds be
extended for an additional five years.
Furthermore, I have co-signed a letter to Secretary Gale Norton
supporting a million dollar appropriation for each of the five accounts
under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.
Finally, I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses
and I hope that they will address the benefits of these Acts and
whether any modifications or changes are necessary.
I am now pleased to recognize the Ranking Minority Member
Mr. Gilchrest. On that note, I would like to yield to the
gentleman from American Samoa.
STATEMENT OF HON. ENI. F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE TO
CONGRESS FROM AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. Faleomavaega. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Allow me to
congratulate you on becoming the Chairman of the Fisheries
Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee. Certainly, I am
sure that myself and my colleagues wish you all the best in
your new responsibilities, as I am also confident that you will
carry on the business of the Subcommittee on the same
bipartisan basis as your predecessor, and certainly a dear
friend and colleague, now the Subcommittee's Vice Chairman, the
gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Saxton.
I just want to compliment and certainly thank him for
allowing me to work with him in the past two years as his
ranking minority member on this Subcommittee. It has been an
enriching experience for me to learn so much, and I am still
learning a lot concerning these responsibilities that we now
have under this Subcommittee.
Mr. Chairman, our ranking member, the gentleman from Guam,
Mr. Underwood, has asked me to pinch hit for him this morning.
He has had to get up at 4 this morning to catch a 6 a.m. flight
to his home district, which is only about 18 hours, a plane
experience that I am sure none of us here are envious of. But
he does send his regards and regrets for not being here, but
certainly wishes and hopes that what we consider here in our
Subcommittee will be fruitful and productive. Certainly, I
don't see any problems in the passage of the proposed
legislation that is now before us.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the conservation and protection
of wildlife resources is one of the major oversight
responsibilities of this Subcommittee. Consequently, I was
pleased to join you and Mr. Saxton in cosponsoring your
legislation to reauthorize three very important international
wildlife conservation statutes--the African Elephant
Conservation Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act,
and the Asian Elephant Conservation Act.
The grant programs initiated under these Acts have been
responsive, effective and successful in supporting a diversity
of conservation activities in various range states scattered
throughout Africa and Asia. In fact, these grant programs have
been so successful that the 106th Congress authorized two
additional conservation programs, one for great apes and a
second for neotropical migratory birds.
Of course, no program is without its critics. I am sure
that some aspects of these programs can be improved. One
question I do have is whether or not these grant programs are
funding the most critical priority needs in the field, as
identified by the range states themselves. In this respect, I
look forward to hearing from our witnesses this morning, and I
look forward to working with you and the ranking Democratic
member of our Subcommittee, Mr. Underwood, and certainly swift,
favorable consideration of these proposed bills.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Faleomavaega follows:]
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE TO
CONGRESS FROM AMERICAN SAMOA
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and good morning. Allow me to congratulate
you on becoming the Chairman of the Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife
and Oceans Subcommittee. I wish you well and good luck in your new
responsibilities. I am confident that you will carry on the business of
this Subcommittee in the same bipartisan fashion as your predecessor,
and now the Subcommittee's Vice Chairman, Jim Saxton.
As you know Mr. Chairman, the conservation and protection of
wildlife resources is one of the major oversight responsibilities of
this subcommittee. Consequently, I was pleased to join you and Mr.
Saxton in cosponsoring your legislation to reauthorize three very
important international wildlife conservation statutes: The African
Elephant Conservation Act; the Rhinoceros/Tiger Conservation Act; and
the Asian Elephant Conservation Act.
The grant programs initiated under these Acts have been responsive,
effective, and successful in supporting a diversity of conservation
activities in various range states scattered throughout Africa and
Asia. In fact, these grant programs have been so successful, the 106th
Congress authorized two additional conservation programs: one for great
apes and a second for neotropical migratory birds.
Of course, no program is without its critics, and I am sure that
some aspects of these programs can be improved. One question I do have
is whether or not these grant programs are funding the most critical
priority needs in the field as identified by the range states
In this respect, I look forward to hearing suggestions from our
witnesses today on how Congress might be able to improve these vitally
important conservation programs.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you and with the
ranking Democratic member on the Subcommittee, Mr. Underwood, on the
swift consideration of your legislation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. Saxton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say
congratulations to you for assuming the Chairmanship of this
great Subcommittee. I have certainly enjoyed my tenure here and
I have enjoyed working with you. I guess through everybody's
career there are bright spots, and one of the bright spots is
knowing that you will be here guiding this Subcommittee, and we
certainly appreciate it.
There is good news and bad news, though. The good news is
that Wayne will be here doing a great job on this Subcommittee,
but if you look at this Chairmanship from the standpoint of a
nutria, it is probably a dark spot because they are in trouble.
For those of you who don't know, nutria are little varmints
that were imported into the Eastern Shore of Maryland from
someplace in South America and they have kind of taken over
parts of the Eastern Shore. I know that they are now in
trouble. So, anyway, I look forward to working with you and to
continuing to share in the successes of this Subcommittee, and
I know that the Subcommittee is in great hands.
Let me just say a word about one of the bills that we are
going to be discussing this morning, and that, of course, is
the bill which I introduced four years ago. It was a bill that
had to do with preserving Asian elephants as I started to learn
that there were less than 40,000 Asian elephants living in the
world and that nearly 50 percent of those elephants were living
in various national parks in India, while the remaining animals
were scattered in fragmented populations throughout 12 other
countries in South and Southeast Asia.
The primary reason for this serious decline in population
was the loss of essential elephant habitat. So we introduced a
bill known as the Asian Elephant Conservation Act, which was
passed and authorized $25 million to be spent until the end of
the authorization, which is September 30 of this year. Whereas
we actually made a start at spending some of that money, we
sent a powerful message, in my opinion, throughout the
conservation community and the rest of the world that this is
an absolutely important issue and an important step forward by
the United States Government. I thank you for your cooperation
in the past. I know that we are here to discuss this this
I ask unanimous consent that my full statement be placed in
the record. Again, congratulations on your Chairmanship.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Jim. Without objection, your
statement will be submitted to the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton follows:]
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ON H.R. 700
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank
you to the witnesses for joining us here today. I appreciate you taking
the time out of your schedules to be here. I am pleased to be able to
speak in support of the reauthorization of the Asian Elephant
Four years ago, I introduced this bill, because I was startled to
learn that there were less than 40,000 Asian elephants living in the
wild. Furthermore, nearly fifty percent of those elephants were living
in various national parks in India, while the remaining animals were
scattered in fragmented populations throughout twelve other countries
in South and Southeast Asia.
The primary reason for this serious decline in population was the
loss of essential habitat. It is no secret that elephants and man are
in direct competition for the same resources. In most cases, it was the
elephants who lost in those confrontations. In addition, Asian
elephants are poached for their bones, hide, meat and teeth; they are
still captured for domestication; and conflicts between elephants and
people are escalating at an alarming rate.
Furthermore, it was clear that millions of people were not aware of
the plight of Asian elephants and that range countries lack the
financial resources to help conserve this flagship species.
Without an international effort, the future of the Asian elephant
was in serious jeopardy. In response to this problem, I, along with a
number of other Members, proposed the establishment of an Asian
Elephant Consortium Fund.
This concept was modeled after the highly successful African
Elephant Conservation Fund, and the fundamental goal of my legislation
was to obtain a small amount of Federal assistance for on-the-ground
Fortunately, this important legislation was overwhelmingly approved
by both bodies, and it was signed into law on November 19, 1997. Under
the terms of P.L. 105-95, the Congress could appropriate up to $25
million to the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund until September 30,
2002. In fact, some $1.9 million in Federal funds has been allocated
and those moneys have been matched by an additional $1.1 million in
Those funds have been used to underwrite 27 conservation grants in
nine different range countries. The type of projects funded have
included: develop an elephant strategy in Sri Lanka; identification of
a suitable managed elephant range in Malaysia; molecular tools for the
local population assessment of Asian elephants; school education to
support Asian elephant conservation in India and trace the mobility
patterns of Sri Lankan elephants. These projects were carefully
analyzed and competitively selected from a list of nearly 100 proposals
that were submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While the early indication is that the worldwide population of
Asian elephants has stopped its precipitous decline, it is unrealistic
to believe that $3 million can save this species from extinction.
Nevertheless, this law sent a powerful message to the international
community that we must not allow this flagship species to disappear
from the wild. The United States must continue to play a leadership
role in this effort.
I am pleased to have introduced this reauthorization and will push
for its passage.
Mr. Gilchrest. I do want to make a quick comment about the
staff, past and present. There is a great staff on the
Fisheries Subcommittee, both Democrat and Republican staff, and
they do a lot of the work that we sometimes get the credit for.
I just want to thank them for all their efforts.
This morning, we have Marshall Jones, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, accompanied by Dr. Ken Stansell. Welcome.
Mr. James Rapp, Executive Director of the Salisbury
Zoological Park. Jim, thank you for coming and making the trip
here this morning. It is a beautiful place on the Eastern Shore
which is representative of the kind of work all of the groups
here today are trying to do, and Jim has been a great
contributor with his time and talent to these efforts.
Ms. Ginette Hemley, Vice President of Species Conservation,
World Wildlife Fund.
Thank you all for coming this morning.
Mr. Jones, you may begin first.
STATEMENT OF MARSHALL P. JONES, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. FISH AND
WILDLIFE SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ACCOMPANIED
BY KENNETH B. STANSELL, ACTING ASSISTANT DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a great pleasure
to be here today, and since this is the first opportunity that
the Fish and Wildlife Service has to testify before this
Subcommittee with you as Chair, let me say how much we look
forward to working with you, as we certainly enjoyed working
with Mr. Saxton.
We know you very well from your strong support for
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and for conservation issues
on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and we are happy to see you
have the opportunity to take that philosophy and extend it to
fish and wildlife issues nationwide.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you.
Mr. Jones. It is also a great pleasure, Mr. Chairman, to be
here to talk about a program that I believe is one that has a
demonstrated track record of success and one that, with a small
expenditure of funds in the big picture, is having a huge
effect on the ground.
Mr. Chairman, I have a written statement and some
attachments which we have offered for the record. I will be
brief this morning. I have Mr. Stansell with me here, who is
himself an expert in these matters and has spent much time in
This program is one that succeeds for several reasons, and
I would like to briefly outline, Mr. Chairman, what I believe
are the most important parts of that success. First of all, it
has had bipartisan support since the first enactment of the
African Elephant Conservation Act in 1989 through the support
of some of your very able staff who are still with the
Committee today. We appreciate it very much. That tradition has
continued with each of the succeeding pieces of legislation
which built on the African Elephant Conservation Act as the
foundation, bipartisan support that grew out of a need and a
demonstrated track record of success.
Secondly, Mr. Chairman, we believe this program is so
strong because it is one that depends on partnerships. Those
are partnerships with, first of all, the other countries which
are the range countries for the species we are talking about in
Africa and in Asia. We couldn't succeed if those countries
weren't interested in working with us, or if those countries
hadn't demonstrated a commitment.
That is why we talk about, as you said, Mr. Chairman, this
being a helping hand, not a hand-out. These are people who want
our help. These are people who are ready and willing to put in
the energy, but they are often not able to do that without
financial assistance, training, equipment, and the technical
assistance that we can give.
And the ``we,'' Mr. Chairman, is not just the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, but all of the organizations that you have
invited here today to testify at this hearing. So the
partnership extends to non-governmental organizations of all
kinds like the World Wildlife Fund, the American Zoo and
Aquarium Association, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the
International Rhino Foundation, and the International Fund for
Animal Welfare. In addition, organizations like Ringling
Brothers, have shown that there is a corporate role in this
partnership; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, through
its Save the Tiger Fund, which I am privileged to serve as a
member of the council, and funded by ExxonMobil, has also
contributed. Others are now joining in to contribute to that,
too. So this is a partnership that is growing and growing, and
we believe it is all built on the foundation of the African
Elephant Conservation Act.
Third, Mr. Chairman, we believe that this program enhances
the prestige and the credibility of the United States. It is
easy for us in the United States to sit back and criticize or
tell other countries what we think they should be doing. This
is a program that says we will work with you to help you.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, this is a program that works. These
small investments have huge effects. A $25,000 grant in a
country like Gabon, Cameroon, Nepal, or Thailand can have a
huge effect on the ground. What we would consider in the big
picture of things here to be a tiny program may be funding
rangers, training people, helping people keep elephants out of
their crops, funding surveys, or developing innovative ways for
people to live with these animals that are beautiful and
inspiring, and also sometimes destructive or dangerous.
So, Mr. Chairman, we believe that this is a program that
has a strong track record. Mr. Faleomavaega mentioned that
programs can always be improved. We have offered some technical
amendments that we think would strengthen the program. We would
be very interested in working with you, Mr. Chairman, and all
the members of the Subcommittee and the Subcommittee staff to
find ways that we can make these programs even better.
I certainly would like to extend an invitation to you and
to the staff. Sometime, we hope that you will have the
opportunity to come with our staff and visit one of our
projects on the ground in Africa or in Asia, so that you can
see the benefits for yourself.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Jones follows:]
STATEMENT OF MARSHALL P. JONES, ACTING DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES FISH AND
WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ON H.R. 643, H.R. 645,
AND H.R. 700
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to
discuss H.R. 643, the African Elephant Conservation Reauthorization Act
of 2001; H.R. 645, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Reauthorization Act of 2001; H.R. 700, the Asian Elephant Conservation
Reauthorization Act of 2001; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
(Service) implementation of these three multi-species conservation
Acts. The Service fully supports the reauthorization of these Acts and
looks forward to working with the Subcommittee to consider several
technical amendments to make the grants program more efficient and
encourage greater collaboration with the private sector. My remarks
today will focus on an overview of implementation of the grant programs
and these technical considerations. Attached to the Service's testimony
are copies of the reports for each of the three grant programs. These
attachments are also available on the Service's website at http://
International.fws.gov. These reports provide a summary of various
projects funded and include detailed examples of how these funds help
to conserve species in the wild.
As members of the Subcommittee may be aware, the Service has a long
history of proactive programs on behalf of foreign endangered species
and their habitats. Over the past two decades the Service's
conservation efforts in Asia have resulted in the development of local
institutional capacity and training, which in turn has facilitated more
effective resource protection by local wildlife researchers and
managers. On behalf of rhinoceroses, tigers, and Asian elephants, we
have been one of the leaders in helping range countries address the
problems affecting the continued existence of these animals. The
decade-long implementation of the African Elephant Conservation Act in
Africa has played a significant role in U.S. efforts to encourage and
assist on-the-ground projects aimed at conserving elephants.
As a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and a major consumer of
species covered by the Convention, the U.S. shares responsibility for
supporting and implementing measures to provide for the conservation of
endangered and threatened species both at home and abroad. The African
Elephant Conservation Act, Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, and
the Asian Elephant Conservation Act are designed to encourage and
assist efforts to conserve some of the world's most ecologically and
sociologically important wildlife species. The key element of these
Acts is the authorization of financial resources, which is a reflection
of the strong U.S. commitment to help support local conservation
programs of these species in the wild. Continued support by the U.S.
through reauthorization of the three Acts remains critical to the
conservation of rhinos, tigers, African and Asian elephants.
In implementing these Acts, the Service has designed a streamlined
process that allows for timely approval of projects and that has the
capacity to respond quickly to emergency situations. Since no
implementing regulations were deemed necessary, there has not been any
time lag from the initial receipt of funds and the implementation of
the program. Furthermore, the grant programs are designed to provide
quick, short-term support for holding actions and other conservation
measures, in concert with existing or proposed long-range activities,
or until such long-range activities are in place. During the early
implementation of the African Elephant Conservation Act, it became
apparent that there was a definite need for such a responsive grant
program. Since that time it has become the hallmark of its success and
served as the model for subsequent Acts for rhinos and tigers, Asian
elephants, and most recently great apes and neotropical migratory
All five Acts are administered through the Service's International
Affairs program under the Multi-National Species Conservation Funds
account. While each account is maintained separately for each Act, a
single fund allows the Service to maximize coordination of these
programs and minimize the administration costs. The Service is
currently reviewing ways to administer these programs consistent with
the President's Budget to streamline government and operate more
efficiently. After this review, the Service will be willing to work
with the authors to revise those provisions related to administration
of these programs to address the true administration needs of these
Regarding H.R. 643, H.R. 645 and H.R. 700, the Service would also
recommend the creation of an advisory group for each of the Acts to
help increase public involvement and Federal and private partnerships.
Both of the newly enacted multi-species conservation Acts, the Great
Ape Conservation Act and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act,
provided for advisory groups, and we believe that it would be a
positive addition to these Acts as well.
The Service would also recommend the inclusion of language to
ensure that grants supporting local capacity building and institutional
development are among the projects for potential funding. The intent
here is to balance the needs for direct species-focused projects with
the need to develop human resources necessary to achieve effective
conservation over the long term. We have attached language to this
testimony that we believe will further benefit these species as well as
help range countries better manage their natural resources. In
addition, while both the Asian Elephant Conservation Act and the
Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act include language providing for
consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development, this
language is absent from the African Elephant Conservation Act. With
regard to this consultative role, the Service recommends amending the
African Elephant Conservation Act with parallel language to make it
consistent with these other Acts. We believe that these minor technical
amendments will serve to further enhance these dynamic programs.
As the first of the multi-species conservation Acts, the African
Elephant Conservation Act was enacted in 1989 and received its initial
funding in Fiscal Year 1990. The Act has now given us over 10 years of
experience with African elephant programs in 23 of the 37 African range
countries. The African Elephant Conservation Act came into existence at
a time when most African elephant populations were declining at an
alarming rate, due primarily to poaching for a large illegal trade in
ivory. In response to this precipitous decline, the Act authorized a
two-pronged conservation strategy. First, it required a review of
elephant conservation programs and established a process for
implementation of strict ivory import controls; and second, it
established a Fund for cooperative conservation projects in African
countries. Throughout the last decade, the African Elephant
Conservation Act has been a critical link in enabling continued U.S.
involvement in African elephant conservation, through both its import
control provisions and the grant program. African elephant populations
today are now stable in some countries and increasing in others.
However there is still a need to help control poaching in many
countries and assist those countries with recovering elephant
populations with their management. Much still needs to be done to
secure the continent's elephant populations at sustainable levels.
Much of the success of the African Elephant Conservation Act has
been a direct result of the unique Small Project Conservation Fund that
is targeted at cooperative, on-the-ground conservation projects in
Africa. Implementation of this program has had a positive impact on the
conservation of the African elephant, and played an indirect role in
the conservation of numerous other species that benefit from the
conservation of this keystone species. To date, the Service has funded
123 different projects in 23 African countries affecting over 300,000
elephants. Each project is a cooperative effort with African CITES
Management Authorities, other foreign governments, non-governmental
organizations, or with private sector entities. No in-country project
is approved unless it has the full support of and has been identified
by that country as a priority for conservation. Through this
cooperative approach, the actual on-the-ground resources directed at
African elephant conservation is nearly five times the $11 million
allocated to the grant program since 1990.
In response to the growing concerns of the status of rhinos and
tigers worldwide and modeled after the African Elephant Conservation
Act, Congress enacted the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of
1994. Rhinos and tigers remain among the most charismatic and some of
the most endangered species on earth. However, since its inception, the
Service has been able to provide substantive support to range countries
to aid their efforts to conserve these species. Sustaining tigers and
rhinos in the wild depends on a number of factors including
international and national commitment to conservation, effective
implementation of existing international and national laws, upgrading
the legal status of rhinos and tigers wherever necessary, strict
implementation of CITES by all tiger and rhino range countries,
cooperation between range countries in combating poaching and trade in
tiger and rhino products, efforts to protect existing tiger and rhino
populations and their habitat, and international support for
conservation in tiger and rhino range countries.
To date, the Service has funded 116 different projects in 16 Asian
and African countries. Each project is a cooperative effort with local
range country governments, non-governmental organizations, CITES
Management Authorities, or with private sector entities with experience
in rhino or tiger conservation. No project is approved unless it has
the full support of and has been identified as a priority for
conservation. Through this cooperative approach, the actual on-the-
ground resources directed at tigers and rhinos is twice the $4 million
appropriated to the grant program since 1996. It is noteworthy to
mention that in the previous two years, 51 percent of the matching
funds and in-kind contributions originated from range countries.
Continued funding of this Act is crucial in order to help support
efforts for these critically endangered species.
Again in 1997, following the small grants model as a blueprint for
success, Congress enacted the Asian Elephant Conservation Act. The
Asian elephant shares a land mass that contains some of the largest and
poorest human populations in the world. The combination of pressures on
the environment brought on by these conditions has resulted in the
conversion of forest cover to village and agriculture use, thereby
fragmenting elephant habitat and populations. It is believed that there
are only about ten elephant populations with over 1,000 elephants and
half of these are found in India. The majority of populations are small
and consist of less than 100 elephants. The greatest threat, although
not new, is the increased poaching of Asian elephants.
The first funds were made available in Fiscal Year 1999. Following
the successful methods of implementation of the African Elephant
Conservation Act and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, the
Service has developed a grants program encouraging proposals for
protection to at-risk elephant populations, habitat and ecosystem
conservation and management, applied research including surveys and
monitoring, conservation education, protected area management,
development of elephant conservation action plans, and support of
efforts to decrease human-elephant conflicts. Similar to the other two
multi-species conservation fund programs, the Service seeks cooperative
efforts with in-country wildlife organizations, non-governmental
organizations, CITES Management Authorities, and private sector
entities with Asian elephant conservation experience. While this grant
program is only in its third year of funding, 27 grants Asian elephant
conservation activities have been awarded involving nine range
countries and leveraging a 1:1 financial match to the $1.9 million
In closing, Mr. Chairman, the findings made by Congress in first
enacting these Acts are regrettably still true today. Many African and
Asian countries do not have sufficient resources to properly manage,
conserve, and protect their rhino, tiger and elephant populations.
While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. The annual
requests for support of high priority projects greatly exceed the funds
available, and we believe that reauthorization of the three Acts can
make important contributions to rhino, tiger and elephant conservation.
The United States must share the responsibility to provide for the
conservation of these magnificent species. The principles embodied in
these Acts are sound. They provide catalysts for cooperative efforts
among the governments of the world, non-governmental organizations, and
the private sector to work together for a common goal the conservation
and continued healthy existence of populations of rhino, tigers and
elephants. These are not hand outs, but helping hands. For all of these
reasons, the Service strongly supports the reauthorization of these
We look forward to working with the Members of this Committee
regarding reauthorization of the multi-species conservation acts. I
would be happy to answer any questions.
Suggested Language Regarding Formation of an Advisory Group This
language is modeled after Section 7(b) of the Neotropical Migratory
Bird Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 6106(b), P.L. 106-247).
(1) In General--To assist in carrying out this Act, the Secretary
may convene an advisory group consisting of individuals representing
public and private organizations actively involved in the conservation
of [species name].
(2) Public Participation--(A) Meetings--The advisory group shall
(i) ensure that each meeting of the advisory group is open to the
public; and (ii) provide, at each meeting, an opportunity for
interested persons to present oral or written statements concerning
items on the agenda.
(B) Notice--The Secretary shall provide to the public timely notice
of each meeting of the advisory group.
(C) Minutes--Minutes of each meeting of the advisory group shall be
kept by the Secretary and shall be made available to the public.
(3) Exemption from Federal Advisory Committee Act--The Federal
Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the advisory
Suggested Language Regarding Project Sustainability and Capacity
Building A section on Project Sustainability should be added to the
African Elephant Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 4211):
(e) Project Sustainability--To the maximum extent practical, in
determining whether to approve project proposals under this section,
the Secretary shall give consideration to projects which will enhance
sustainable conservation programs to ensure effective, long-term
conservation of African elephants.
Section 5(e) of the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994
(16 U.S.C. 5304) should be amended to read:
(e) Project Sustainability--To the maximum extent practical, in
determining whether to approve project proposals under this section,
the Secretary shall give consideration to projects which will enhance
sustainable conservation programs to ensure effective, long-term
conservation of rhinoceros and tigers.
Mr. Gilchrest. We would certainly take advantage of that
opportunity. Thank you.
James Rapp, welcome.
JAMES L. RAPP, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SALISBURY ZOOLOGICAL PARK,
ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN ZOO AND AQUARIUM ASSOCIATION
Mr. Rapp. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
the opportunity to testify this morning on three very important
legislative reauthorizations, and thank you for your kind words
about the Salisbury Zoo.
My name is Jim Rapp. I am Director of the Salisbury
Zoological Park, in Salisbury, Maryland. Our zoo is a 12-acre
facility that displays over 100 species of wildlife, over 350
specimens in our collection, and we host an annual attendance
of about 250,000 visitors, including 15,000 local school
children who come for education programs.
The Salisbury Zoo has been an accredited member of the
American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the AZA, since 1972. I
currently serve on the AZA Government Affairs Committee and am
representing the Association today.
AZA represents 191 professionally-managed and accredited
zoological parks and aquariums that draw over 130 million
visitors annually and have more than 5 million members
combined. Collectively, our institutions teach more than 12
million people each year in a living classroom setting, and
dedicate over $50 million annually to conservation education
programs that focus on the devastating effects of the loss of
vital species habitat and the illegal trade in endangered
species parts and products.
In addition, AZA members invest over $50 million annually
in scientific research, and support over 700 field conservation
and research projects in 80 countries. In addition to that, AZA
institutions have established the Species Survival Plan, a
long-term plan that facilitate genetically diverse breeding,
habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, and
supportive research to ensure survival for many threatened and
Currently, AZA members are involved in 95 different SSP
programs covering 124 species from around the world. A majority
of those species represented are listed under the Endangered
Species Act or CITES, including all of the great apes, Siberian
and Sumatran tigers, African and Asian elephants, and four
species of rhinoceros.
While AZA zoos and aquariums have become the last
stronghold for some species, we fully realize that we cannot
save these animals by zoo propagation alone. AZA members
continue to work with Congress, the Federal agencies,
conservation organizations, the private sector, and the
countries of origin to conserve our wildlife. It is in this
context that AZA expresses its strong support for the quick
passage of H.R. 643, H.R. 645 and H.R. 700.
Before I briefly discuss these bills, I would first like to
commend the Subcommittee for your far-sighted vision in passing
the Great Ape Conservation Act and the Neotropical Migratory
Bird Conservation Act during the last Congress. These Acts
created two very critical additions to the Multinational
Species Conservation Fund program.
Mr. Chairman, we have before us today three important
pieces of legislation that represent a significant portion of
the Federal Government's direct contribution to preserving
endangered wildlife abroad. We are going to hear a lot today
about declining species populations and depleting habitat. In
fact, according to recent estimates, 20 percent or more of the
world's biodiversity could disappear in the next two decades as
a result of habitat fragmentation, alteration, and over-
exploitation of threatened and endangered species. It is
therefore vital that more people, governments, institutions,
and organizations become involved in these efforts to conserve
our imperiled environment.
Over the duration of the African elephant, Asian elephant
and rhino-tiger funds, the U.S. Congress has appropriated over
$14 million that have been leveraged with nearly $56 million in
real dollars and/or in-kind services from host countries and
local international non-governmental organizations. This is a
significant partnership, especially in terms of Government
programs. The funds provided by Congress have served as the
catalyst for the implementation of over 230 projects worldwide,
ranging from highly sophisticated and innovative data
collection, tracking and monitoring programs, to simply
providing essential on-the-ground resources, weapons,
ammunition, vehicles, and communications systems to game
wardens and law enforcement officials who have been entrusted
to protect these magnificent animals from the ravages of civil
unrest, poaching, and habitat exploitation.
What makes these programs highly effective is that the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service distributes the funds in a timely and
efficient manner with very few bureaucratic entanglements. The
funds are targeted to high-priority field conservation efforts
that most directly benefit the species of concern.
Most importantly, the African elephant, Asian elephant, and
rhino-tiger funds have long recognized the value of promoting
cooperative projects among government entities, NGOs, and the
affected local communities in the range states. This is
essential because it is only through local action, local
education and local support that realistic solutions for saving
these species can be effectively devised and implemented.
I am going to just briefly touch on a few numbers with the
African Elephant Reauthorization Act, H.R. 643. Currently, in
the wild, it is estimated that the population ranges from
300,000 to 600,000 individuals. That represents less than half
of the elephant population that existed in Africa in the
1970's. Certainly, these funds in the African Elephant
Conservation Act have gone a long way.
On H.R. 645, the Rhino-Tiger Act, since the 1940's--some
figures might be of interest to you--three tiger subspecies,
the Caspian, Bali and Javan, have become extinct, and 95
percent of the world's remaining tiger population has
disappeared since the early 1900's, from about 100,000 tigers
in the early part of the century to less than 7,000 today.
The rhino population, as well, is also in serious decline,
and the rhino-tiger funds have done a great deal to help those
populations recover. As Representative Saxton said, the Asian
Elephant Conservation Act has done a great deal for elephants
in Asia, similar to the African Elephant Conservation Act.
Basically, let me summarize here. The challenges before
this Subcommittee with regard to international wildlife
conservation we see as three-fold. One is to reauthorize these
three highly effective conservation funds. Second is to work to
secure an appropriation of $1.5 million for each of the five
funds under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund; and,
third, to look beyond the established funds to examine new and
innovative legislative mechanisms for addressing ecosystem-wide
management protection issues.
Again, Mr. Chairman, the AZA wholeheartedly supports H.R.
643, 645 and 700. I want to thank you for the opportunity to
comment today and I would be happy to answer any questions, if
you have them.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rapp follows:]
STATEMENT OF JAMES L. RAPP, DIRECTOR, SALISBURY ZOOLOGICAL PARK, ON
H.R. 643, H.R. 645, AND H.R. 700
Thank you Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify this morning
on three very important legislative reauthorizations: H.R. 643, the
African Elephant Conservation Act; H.R. 645, the Rhino-Tiger
Conservation Act; and H.R. 700, the Asian Elephant Conservation Act.
My name is Jim Rapp and I am the Director of the Salisbury
Zoological Park in Salisbury, Maryland. I have worked for the Zoo for
10 years serving in a number of capacities. The Salisbury Zoo is a
twelve-acre facility that displays over 100 different wildlife species
over 350 specimens. We host an annual attendance of 250,000 visitors,
including 15,000 local school children.
The Zoological Park has been an accredited member of the American
Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) since 1972. I currently serve on the
AZA Government Affairs Committee.
AZA represents 191 professionally managed and accredited
institutions which draw over 130 million visitors annually and have
more than 5 million zoo and aquarium members. Collectively, our
institutions teach more than 12 million people each year in living
classrooms and dedicate over $50 million annually to conservation
education programs that focus on, among other things, the devastating
effects of the loss of vital species habitat and the illegal trade in
endangered species parts and products. AZA members invest over $50
million annually in scientific research and support over 700 field
conservation and research projects in 80 countries.
In addition, AZA institutions have established the Species Survival
Plan (SSP) program a long-term plan involving genetically diverse
breeding, habitat preservation, public education, field conservation
and supportive research to ensure survival for many threatened and
endangered species. Currently, AZA members are involved in 95 SSP
programs featuring 124 species throughout the world. A large majority
of those SSPs cover species which are listed under the Endangered
Species Act or CITES, including all the great apes--chimpanzees,
gorillas, orangutans and bonobos, African and Asian elephants, Siberian
and Sumatran tigers and black, white, Sumatran and greater one-horned
And while AZA zoos and aquariums have become the last stronghold
for some species, we fully realize that we cannot save them by zoo
propagation alone. AZA members continue to work with Congress, the
Federal agencies, conservation organizations, the private sector and
the countries of origin to conserve our wildlife heritage. It is in
this context that AZA expresses its strong support for the quick
passage of H.R. 643, H.R. 645 and H.R. 700.
Before I briefly discuss these bills, I would first like to commend
the members of this Subcommittee for their far-sighted vision in
passing HR. 4320, the Great Ape Conservation Act during the last
Congress and creating a very critical addition to the Multinational
Species Conservation Fund program.
Mr. Chairman, we have before us today, three important pieces of
legislation that represent a significant portion of the Federal
Government's direct contribution to preserving species-specific
wildlife abroad. Twenty percent or more of the world's biodiversity
could disappear in the next two decades, primarily due to habitat
fragmentation and alteration and the over-exploitation of threatened
and endangered species according to recent estimates. It is therefore
vital that more people, governments, institutions and organizations
become involved in efforts to conserve our imperiled environment.
Over the duration of the African Elephant, Asian Elephant and
Rhino/Tiger funds, the U.S. Congress has appropriated over $14 million
that has been leveraged with nearly $56 million in real dollars and/or
in-kind services from host countries and local/international non-
governmental organizations (NGO's). This is a significant partnership
especially in terms of government programs. The funds provided by
Congress have served as the catalyst for the implementation of over 230
projects worldwide ranging from highly sophisticated and innovative
data collection, tracking and monitoring programs to simply providing
essential on-the-ground resources weapons, ammunition, vehicles and
communication systems to game wardens and law enforcement officials who
have been entrusted to protect these magnificent animals from the
ravages of civil unrest, poaching and habitat exploitation.
What makes these programs effective is that the US Fish and
Wildlife Service distributes the funds in a timely and efficient manner
with very few bureaucratic entanglements. The funds are targeted to
high-priority field conservation efforts that most directly benefit the
species of concern. More importantly, the African Elephant, Asian
Elephant and Rhino/Tiger funds have long-recognized the value of
promoting cooperative projects among government entities, NGO's and the
affected local communities in the range states. This is essential
because it is only through local action, local education, and local
support that realistic solutions for saving these species can be
effectively devised and implemented.
Let me turn now to the three reauthorizations:
1) H.R. 643, the African Elephant Conservation Reauthorization Act
The African elephant is the standard bearer for the conservation fund
programs. At the time of the enactment of the African Elephant
Conservation Act in 1989, the population of this magnificent species
was declining at a perilous rate due to ivory poaching, habitat
destruction and elephant-human conflicts. The Act has gone a long ways
toward stemming the dramatic decline in African elephant numbers, with
wild population estimates now ranging from 300,000 to 600,000
individuals. While this may seem to be a stable size, it represents
less than half of the elephants that inhabited Africa in the 1970's.
The species is still not out of danger as increased pressures from the
ivory trade, ongoing civil wars and the evolving bushmeat crisis in
Central and East Africa continue to threaten populations. In addition,
only about 20 percent of the more than 2.2 million square mile range of
the African elephant is under some form of protection.
Since the late 1980's, the African Elephant Conservation Fund has
generated 123 projects in 22 range countries. These projects have
provided critical assistance to range countries and NGO's for anti-
poaching/anti-smuggling law enforcement efforts, population
surveillance and monitoring, habitat protection and management,
conservation education, cross-border cooperation and elephant-human
2) H.R. 645, the Rhinoceros/Tiger Conservation Reauthorization Act
As this Subcommittee is well aware, the situation facing all species of
tigers and rhinos in the wild has reached crisis levels. Since the
1940's, three tiger subspecies the Caspian, Bali, and Javan have become
extinct, and the South China tiger is now among the most endangered
mammals on earth. Ninety-five percent of the world's tiger population
has disappeared since the early 1900's. At that time, an estimated
100,000 tigers roamed India, Indochina and other parts of Asia. Today,
approximately 7,000 tigers are left in the wild and those numbers
continue to drop. The estimated wild populations of the five subspecies
of tiger in the wild are as follows: South China tiger 20-30
individuals; Amur/Siberian tiger: 360-400 individuals; Bengal tiger:
3200-4500 individuals; Indo-Chinese tiger: 1200-1800 individuals; and
Sumatran tiger: 400-500 individuals. While pressure from an expanding
human population and the development of natural resources to support a
burgeoning Asian economy have contributed to the decline in tiger
populations, poaching and the use of tiger parts in traditional Asian
medicines have clearly taken center stage since the 1980's as the
primary reasons for this species decline.
The situation facing the three Asian and two African rhino species
is also extremely serious. Populations were abundant and rather widely
distributed in Asia through the mid-1800's. Today fewer than 100 Javan
rhinos, 300 Sumatran rhinos and 2400 Indian rhinos remain in the wild.
In Africa, wild populations of black rhinos have declined by over 95
percent (to approximately 2700 individuals) over the past two decades
while over 10,400 white rhinos still remain. The precipitous decline in
the black rhino numbers can be directly attributed to poaching for the
trade in traditional medicines and ornamental dagger handles. Obviously
these population numbers are not sustainable. Conservation biologists
contend that a population size of 2000-3000 individuals within each
species is necessary for long-term viability. Most rhino species are
near or well below this level. While poaching for the horn is the major
threat for all five species, habitat degradation is also a significant
threat for the Asian species due to unsustainable exploitation of
timberlands, unchecked conversion of land to agricultural use and human
The Rhino/Tiger Conservation Fund created in 1994 has generated 116
projects in 16 countries. The fund has proven itself effective for
critical conservation programs in Africa and Asia for the highly
endangered species and subspecies of rhinoceros and tiger. The fund has
delivered immediate results by assisting range countries and
conservation NGO's on the front lines through critical field
conservation work, in situ breeding programs, monitoring and
surveillance, habitat management, and anti-poaching/anti-smuggling
efforts. Conservation education programs designed to address animal-
human conflicts, consumer awareness of rhino/tiger products and the
intrinsic value of these species to local communities have also been
3) H.R. 700, the Asian Elephant Conservation Reauthorization Act
The number of Asian elephants in the wild varies between 35,000 and
50,000 individuals in over 13 countries. With a population that is 1/
10th the size of their African relatives, Asian elephants can ill-
afford a prolonged decline in their numbers. Yet, with the tremendous
increase in the human population of Asia and the resulting increase in
elephant-human conflicts due to shrinking critical habitat, the
prognosis for the Asian elephant is guarded at best.
The Asian Elephant Conservation Fund created in 1997 has generated
27 projects in nine range countries. Like its African elephant
counterpart, these projects have primarily focused on habitat and
protected area management, surveillance and monitoring of populations,
cross-border cooperation, conservation education in the local
communities and the resolution of elephant-human conflicts.
Mr. Chairman, the endangered status of the wildlife species
highlighted by these three conservation funds represents an ecological
and societal problem of enormous proportions. It is a problem of
political unrest compounded by unregulated resource exploitation and
habitat degradation through logging, mining, farming and poaching. It
is also a problem that is not specifically limited to the species we
have discussed today. In Borneo, for example, the orangutan population
has declined by 90 percent. Then there are also lesser-known species
such as the Rodrigues Island fruit bat a highly endangered species that
is essential for seed dispersal and pollination on the Rodrigues Island
in the Indian Ocean.
We are now facing what is popularly referred to as the Empty Forest
Syndrome, where the trees in the forest may be left standing but the
endemic wildlife is long removed. And if the essential wildlife--the
predators, the prey, the seed spreaders, the natural fertilizers are
gone, the question of ecological balance becomes paramount.
During the last Congress, AZA and many of the NGO's beside me today
testified on a bill entitled the Keystone Species Conservation Act, a
measure that is no less critical or time-sensitive than the
reauthorizations before us today. In the United States, our cornerstone
piece of wildlife conservation is the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of
1973. Under the ESA, over 1,050 animal species worldwide have been
designated as either threatened or endangered 555 of those are foreign
species. However, foreign species do not receive the key protection
mechanisms inherent in the ESA such as critical habitat designation or
species recovery plans.
Similarly, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), lists over 30,000 species that
receive protection through restrictions on trade in parts and products.
However, CITES is not designed to offer in situ conservation measures
for threatened and endangered species.
The Keystone Species bill would have created a conservation fund
account that built upon the strengths of the existing elephant and
rhino/tiger funds. Funding would be prioritized based on 1) projects
that would enhance programs for the conservation of species that are
most imperiled and that are supported by the relevant wildlife
management authority in the country where the program will be
conducted; 2) projects that would receive the greatest level of
matching assistance from non-Federal sources; and 3) projects that
would enhance local capacity for the conservation of the species. The
bill had some shortcomings but there was substantial interest and
support for an indicator-species, ecosystem-wide approach to wildlife
conservation. In addition, the establishment of this type of
legislation would obviate the need to return in two or four years to
fight for other species-specific bills.
In conclusion, the challenges before this Subcommittee with regard
to international wildlife conservation are three-fold: 1) to
reauthorize these three highly effective conservation funds; 2) to work
to secure increased appropriations levels for all of the funds under
the Multi-National Species Conservation Fund program, which includes
African elephants, Asian elephants, Rhino/tiger, Great Apes, and
neotropical migratory birds; and 3) to look beyond these established
funds to new and innovative legislative mechanisms for addressing
ecosystem-wide management and protection issues.
Again Mr. Chairman, AZA wholeheartedly supports H.R. 642, H.R. 645
and H.R. 700 and we look forward to working with you and the
Subcommittee to secure swift passage of these bills this year. In
addition, AZA member institutions will continue to raise the awareness
of our 130 million visitors each year to bring focus on threatened and
endangered species worldwide for it is public awareness of their plight
that has helped engage the U.S. as a major catalyst for world concern.
Thank you again for this opportunity to comment on these important
wildlife conservation measures.
I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you very much, Jim.
STATEMENT OF GINETTE HEMLEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF SPECIES
CONSERVATION, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
Ms. Hemley. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Saxton, Mr.
Faleomavaega, for inviting World Wildlife Fund to testify
today. We very much look forward to working with you and all
the Subcommittee members and staff on a number of wildlife
conservation issues. We have greatly appreciated your support
in the past and we look forward to working with you on the
programs under discussion today.
World Wildlife Fund strongly supports reauthorization of
the African and Asian Elephant Conservation Acts and the Rhino
and Tiger Conservation Act, for two simple reasons. They are
urgently needed and they are extremely cost-effective. I would
like to elaborate briefly on these points.
All of the species under consideration today that are
affected by these bills are better off today than they were 10
years ago, in part because of the U.S. programs established to
help them. The African Elephant Conservation Fund, which has
the longest track record of the programs we are discussing, has
been instrumental in reducing poaching in many parts of Africa
and has helped to equip struggling governments in their efforts
to conserve and begin to rebuild remaining elephant
The Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act and the Asian Elephant
Conservation Act have achieved similar results. In the last few
years, tiger poaching has been reduced in parts of Russia,
India, Nepal, and elsewhere. For the first time in two decades,
African rhino numbers are showing a modest but overall upward
trend in most places. The Asian elephant is being secured in
the few remaining areas where it has the best chance of long-
term survival, thanks in part to the support of the Asian
Elephant Conservation Fund.
There is no question that these programs have been
instrumental in the conservation progress that we have seen,
modest as it might be, in the last decade. We greatly
appreciate your support and this Subcommittee's support in
reauthorizing these, but I want to just elaborate a bit on why
Congress should continue to support them in the future.
First, this is no time to let up our guard. Many
populations of these species remain seriously at risk. We have
learned the hard way with endangered species that have big
price tags on their heads that they need sustained, direct
support if they are going to survive. As you said, Mr.
Chairman, these programs offer the only international fund that
has been sustained in supporting conservation programs for
Second, the role that these programs play is often a
catalytic one. Many of the projects they support are effective
because, as Mr. Jones pointed out, they bring together multiple
partners that leverage additional conservation funding and
assistance. They truly have a multiplier effect.
Third, a strong emphasis of these programs is training, and
that is a very key thing, I think, because by focusing on
training park guards, wildlife managers, and scientific
researchers, these programs have lasting value and really build
conservation capacity in the countries where they operate.
Fourth, by conserving these large mammals which we
sometimes call flagship species--these are species that require
relatively large areas to survive--these programs are also able
to conserve thousands of other species sharing their habitats.
Their conservation benefits extend well beyond the individual
species to whole communities and ecosystems, and many of these
ecosystems are highly threatened.
Fifth, the conservation community, in part thanks to the
support of these programs, has begun to implement long-term
strategies for the conservation of these species. We are no
longer just reacting to poaching crisis, as we were in the last
10 to 15 years. Our conservation approaches have become more
advanced, so that we now can determine just where in a
strategic sense these species have the best chance of long-term
survival so that these areas can receive priority attention. We
are probably not going to be able to save all of these species
everywhere they live. We have to be strategic, we have to make
some hard decisions.
Finally, elephants, rhinos, and tigers are important to the
American public. The diversity of organizations represented
here today is testament, I think, to the broad public interest
in saving these species. Together, all of our organizations
represent millions of Americans. We all support programs
working together with the U.S. Government to conserve these
species in the wild. They are excellent examples of effective
Just to comment briefly, Mr. Chairman, on the cost-
effectiveness of these programs, as you have heard, they
leverage a significant amount of conservation funding and
support of about $13-$14 million worth of grants expended over
the last 10 years. You mentioned over $56 million in matching
funds and in-kind contributions have been leveraged. That is a
four-to-one return. That is very impressive. World Wildlife
Fund works with a lot of international aid programs. I am not
aware of any that generate this level of matching or collateral
These programs are also administered at minimal cost. In
fact, they probably aren't getting enough funding to cover the
administrative costs, and World Wildlife Fund would support a
modest amendment to these bills to make sure that the costs are
effectively addressed. We think the Fish and Wildlife Service
has done an excellent job at keeping the program bureaucracy
streamlined, but could probably use a little bit more funding
to make sure the program is run well.
I also would like to note that these programs have helped
generate additional interest in funding from government
institutions around the world. The European Union, Japan, the
Global Environment Facility, aid agencies in countries like the
Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany are all supporting efforts to
protect elephants, tigers, and rhinos. This is, in part, I
think due to the leadership the U.S. has provided, the
attention the U.S. has drawn to the status of these species,
and the catalytic small grants that have been provided by the
elephant, rhino, and tiger programs.
Finally, in closing, just to touch briefly on the
appropriations issue, we greatly appreciate this Subcommittee's
support in getting an increase to the appropriations for these
programs. Last year, the total funding was $3.25 million. There
are now two new funds, as was pointed out. The Fish and
Wildlife Service receives twice as many proposals as it can
fund with the current budget.
We recommend that each of the five species funds that are
part of the multinational program be appropriated at a level of
at least $1.5 million, for a total of $7.5 million. We do
appreciate the Subcommittee's support in our effort to secure
this increase. It is very clear from the record established so
far that the funding will be put to very good use.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your time. I will be happy to
answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Hemley follows:]
STATEMENT OF GINETTE HEMLEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF SPECIES CONSERVATION,
WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the
opportunity to testify today. I am Ginette Hemley, Vice President for
Species Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. WWF is the largest private
conservation organization working internationally to protect wildlife
and wildlife habitats. We currently sponsor conservation programs in
more than 100 countries, thanks to the support of 1.2 million members
in the United States and more than 5 million members worldwide.
We are here today to discuss conservation programs for some of the
world's most threatened species rhinos, tigers, and elephants. The
United States, primarily through programs administered by the Fish and
Wildlife Service, has played a critical role in the protection and
conservation of these highly endangered species. World Wildlife Fund
strongly urges that these programs be reauthorized, for the reasons
Why These Programs Are Important
During the 1970's and 1980's, a major poaching crisis swept through
parts of Africa and Asia, decimating populations of the African
elephant, African and Asian rhinos, and the tiger. This poaching was
driven primarily by a dramatic increase in global market demand for
ivory for use as carvings and trinkets, and for rhino horn and tiger
bone, which are highly valued ingredients in traditional Chinese
medicine. The crisis was made worse in the 1990's by declining
economies and political instability in many African and Asian range
The statistics surrounding the wildlife losses were staggering.
During the 1980's, half of Africa's elephants perhaps half a million
animals were lost to poaching. Black rhinos dwindled from about 70,000
in 1970 to fewer than 2,500 animals by 1992, an astounding 95 percent
loss in just two decades. The tiger population in India was reduced to
fewer than 3,000 animals by the late 1980's, while Russia's Siberian
tigers took a major hit in the early 1990's, with numbers falling by
perhaps 40 percent to 250 animals by 1993. Although less in the media
spotlight, the Asian elephant population in the wild has declined to
about one-tenth the size of its African cousin, to fewer than 50,000
animals, due to growing human population pressures in South and
Thanks to a broad international response, the situation for most of
these species began to improve in the 1990's. CITES, the Convention on
International Trade on Endangered Species, banned the ivory trade in
1989 and started to beef up enforcement efforts to stop the illegal
trade of rhino and tiger parts. But stopping the trade was not enough.
Direct action was needed on the ground to protect dwindling populations
of these species, and the United States stepped in to help. Congress
passed the African Elephant Conservation Act in 1988 to provide small
grants to help African countries conserve their remaining elephant
populations and help rebuild them. Since the African Elephant
Conservation Fund was initiated in 1990, more than 120 grants have been
awarded for projects in 22 countries, strengthening enforcement and
trade control measures, protecting critical habitat, aiding training
programs for park guard and wildlife managers, and assisting important
elephant research, monitoring and survey efforts.
After 10 years, these scientific and conservation efforts, together
with the CITES ivory ban and collaborative programs supported by other
governments, aid agencies, and NGO's, have helped African elephant
populations begin to rebuild in some countries. Poaching levels are
significantly reduced in some areas and illegal trade has slowed. In
short, the African elephant is better off today than it was a decade
ago, in part because of U.S. Government support. Significant challenges
remain, however, in part because of the eroding ability of many African
governments to mount their own conservation efforts due to economic and
The success of the African Elephant Conservation Act led Congress
to pass the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act in 1994. With the
establishment of the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund, a steady stream
of small but well-targeted grants have helped avert further losses of
these species as well. In the past five years, we have seen signs of
improvement in the status of tiger populations in Russia, Nepal, India,
and elsewhere. Africa's black rhino has, for the first time in several
years, experienced a modest increase in number in several places, and
the white rhino, once threatened, is actually thriving in South Africa.
Asian rhinos, representing some of the most endangered large mammals on
Earth, have received invaluable assistance from the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Fund but remain severely at risk in parts of their
remaining habitat fragments in South and Southeast Asia.
There is little question that the U.S. programs for tigers, rhinos
and elephants, modest as they are, have helped avert disaster for these
species even possible extinction in some cases. They have helped
developing country governments and NGO's build more effective
conservation programs. They have truly had a multiplier effect,
leveraging an impressive return on partner investments and providing an
excellent example of public-private collaboration. But the task is not
done. While we have begun to emerge from a period of crisis for some of
these species, their long-term survival is still seriously at risk.
It is important to note that these conservation programs are
critical not just to the species concerned, but also to Americans who
appreciate and use them as symbols of strength and endurance. The
Republican Party should be first among those to acknowledge the benefit
of the elephant to its image. Saving these species is not just a
biological imperative elephants, tigers, and rhinos also have important
social, economic, and cultural roles to play in American society.
The Broad Impact of Elephant, Rhino and Tiger Conservation Efforts
Elephants, rhinos, and tigers are not only threatened in their own
right, they are flagships for the threatened habitats and ecosystems in
Africa and Asia in which they live, including some of the world's most
unique and biologically diverse systems, such as tropical lowland
forests. These large mammals require relatively large areas to survive,
so by protecting them, thousands of other plant and animals species
also are conserved. They are true ``umbrella'' species whose
conservation benefits extend well beyond their own to whole communities
Some of these large mammals also play an inordinately important
role in the ecosystem they are keystone species and their survival is
crucial for the survival of the system as a whole. Tigers, for example,
are top predators, keeping populations of prey species in check, which
in turn keep in balance the populations of the plants upon which they
feed. By virtue of their size, feeding habitats, and movements,
elephants actually shape the physical environment in which they live
and so have a major influence on the plant and animal species around
them. In short, when tigers and elephants thrive, the whole ecosystem
thrives. When they suffer, the entire ecosystem suffers, including the
people that live in or around it.
Recent Advances in Elephant, Rhino, and Tiger Conservation
Given the significant declines these species have experienced in
recent years, a logical question to ask is, are their remaining
populations and are the ecosystems in which these species live still
viable? Significant study and debate surround the question of
biological viability, and clearly massive declines or extirpation of a
population in a particular area can be disruptive. But several points
are important to consider. First, we have learned with both tigers and
rhinos that a species can recover if habitat and food availability is
sufficient and poaching is controlled. For example, the tiger
population in the Russian Far East was once reduced to fewer than 40
animals in the 1940's due to uncontrolled hunting. Strict protection in
an area where habitat and prey was abundant allowed the population to
recover to around 400 by the 1980's. Similarly, the white rhino
population in South Africa has grown to an astounding 9,700 animals
today the largest rhino population on Earth from fewer than 100 animals
at the turn of the century. Likewise, greater one-horned rhinos in
Nepal, reduced to 100 or so in the 1960's due to overhunting, now
thrive at more than 600 animals, enough to begin repopulating areas
where they were extirpated thanks to strong protection by the Nepalese
government and effective community-based conservation efforts. These
success stories demonstrate that a species can come back, if sufficient
and sustained protection is provided.
Thanks to increased international support for conservation
activities, including from the FWS programs, the conservation community
has begun to implement long-term strategies for the conservation of
tigers, rhinos, elephants, and other large mammals. We are increasingly
able to determine where our conservation investments will have the
biggest long-term payoff. For example, a ground-breaking analysis
undertaken by WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation/Exxon-Mobile Save the Tiger Fund, shared
previously with this subcommittee, has prioritized remaining tiger
populations and habitats across Asia based on habitat type and
integrity, levels of disturbance, and other factors related to long-
term viability. This analysis is helping to guide global tiger
conservation efforts so that the most promising areas and populations
receive priority attention. We know that we cannot save tigers
everywhere, and that we must make tradeoffs in our decisions. Similar
analyses have been undertaken for Asian elephants and rhinos, and
comparable regional efforts are underway for African elephants.
The conservation community has also come to recognize that, for
many large mammals like tigers, rhinos, and elephants requiring large
areas to maintain healthy populations, the current universe of parks
and protected areas does not provide sufficient habitat for their long-
term survival. That is, a large proportion of their populations in some
cases 50 percent or more are found outside areas that receive official
protection, so effective conservation efforts must extend throughout
the entire landscape where the species lives and moves. New approaches
to conservation are encompassing larger areas than ever before
ecoregions and landscapes and bringing together habitat protection,
land-use planning, managed resource use, and community-based
conservation in an integrated fashion that benefits both wildlife and
people. In some cases, this includes undertaking efforts to restore
forest corridors that connect parks and protected areas so that species
like tigers, rhinos, and elephants can more easily disperse, breed, and
establish new populations, enhancing their genetic viability and
prospects for long-term survival.
The Unique Value of the Elephant, Rhino, and Tiger Funds
The situation for elephants, rhinos, and tigers remains serious,
but it is far from hopeless. The progress of the last few years, thanks
in part to the programs authorized by the African Elephant, Asian
Elephant, and Rhino and Tiger Conservation Acts, demonstrate that, when
reliable financial support is available and is used wisely,
improvements can be rapid and dramatic. We know what needs to be done
to save these species, and our conservation approaches and
methodologies are becoming more effective and innovative every day. We
have better data on these species and their critical habitats and
stronger international collaboration than ever before. We must build on
this important momentum.
The FWS programs for tigers, rhinos, and elephants have a number of
unique features that underpin their effectiveness. These include:
Leveraging Significant Conservation Funding and Support
The FWS reports that from 1990 through January 2001, about 240
grants totaling some $13.5 million have been awarded for elephant,
tiger, and rhino projects. These together have leveraged almost $56
million in matching funds and in-kind contributions, a 4:1 return. In
1999 and 2000, 51 percent of the matching funds and in-kind
contributions for tiger and rhino projects originated from the range
countries. Few international conservation or aid programs are able to
generate this level of matching or collateral support.
Program Administration with Minimal Bureaucracy and Cost
To date, the elephant, rhino, and tiger grant programs have been
administered at minimal cost for less than 4 percent of the monies
appropriated for the grant programs from 1990 to 2000. In fact, this
amount has proven inadequate to cover the costs of full program
administration, and subsidies have been needed from other FWS programs.
Although these grant programs are relatively small, they include
several important activities, such as developing and reviewing
proposals and reports, issuing and tracking project contracts and
payments, communicating with grantees and host governments, and
tracking and monitoring projects. WWF supports amending the elephant,
rhino, and tiger acts to ensure a modest increase in the allowance for
administrative expenses so that the grant funds are administered with
maximum effectiveness. We encourage the subcommittee to include the
same language pertaining to administrative expenses as contained in the
Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000, i.e. that the Secretary ``may
expend not more than 3 percent, or up to $80,000, whichever is greater,
to pay the administrative expenses necessary '' We believe this is a
more appropriate formula than now contained in the reauthorization
bills under consideration today.
Strengthening Collaboration Among NGO's and Governments
As both a partner donor and implementing organization for various
FWS-supported projects, WWF is acutely aware of the important role the
elephant, rhino, and tiger programs have played in fostering
collaboration among NGO's and governments. Many of the projects
supported by these conservation funds involve multiple partners, and
grants provided to NGO's receive approval from range country
governments before they are awarded. The FWS programs have thus acted
as a catalyst, not only for leveraging funding, but also for bringing
important conservation players together in ways that enhance
collaboration and conservation impact.
Providing International Leadership
By passing the African Elephant, Asian Elephant, and Rhino and
Tiger Conservation Acts and implementing the programs they authorize,
the U.S. Congress and FWS have together staked out important leadership
roles in international conservation. This has helped bring the plight
of these endangered species to the attention of governments worldwide,
including both range and donor countries, which have increased their
support for conservation programs accordingly. It has helped strengthen
the activities of CITES in addressing key threats to these species. It
has helped make these species a higher priority on policy and
philanthropy agendas in the private sector, leading to increased public
support for conservation programs.
Increasing Public Awareness
Over the past decade, the American public's interest in and concern
for the future of these endangered species has grown. This is clearly
the result of the combined efforts of non-governmental organizations
such as those testifying here today and the efforts of the FWS and
Congress. All of us receive a regular stream of letters of concern
about and in support of these species. There is little question that
the American public cares deeply about the future of elephants, tigers,
and rhinos, and expects and encourages us all to do more on their
behalf. Public contributions to many of the organizations here today
are a strong sign of the importance the public places on efforts to
protect these species, and have enabled the private sector to work
hand-in-hand with the government on conservation efforts.
The Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act
Recognizing the importance of the United States as a market for
Asian medicinal products purporting to contain rhino and tiger
ingredients, Congress amended the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act in
1998 to include a specific prohibition on the import, export, and sale
of any product for human consumption that contains or is labeled or
advertised to contain tiger or rhino parts. This new law, consistent
with a recommendation by CITES, was intended to facilitate enforcement
efforts by shifting the burden of proof that a product actually
contains these ingredients from the government to the trader or
salesperson. The law also required, within 180 days of its passage, the
initiation of an education program to inform consumers about the law
and the plight of the species it is intended to protect. To date, we
are aware of few activities undertaken by the FWS to begin such an
education program, although several NGO's have offered to collaborate
in these efforts in order to minimize the cost to the government. WWF
encourages the subcommittee to confer with FWS on their plans for
developing such a program in the future.
The Need for an Increase in Appropriations for the Multinational
From 1990 to 2000, over 650 proposals have been submitted for
funding by the elephant, rhino, and tiger programs. Of these, some 240
grants have been awarded. Clearly, the number of projects in need of
funding outstrips the capacity of the FWS to support them. With the
addition of two new programs the Great Ape Conservation Fund and
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund the total combined amount
of funding authorized by Congress is $30 million. Last year, just $3.25
million was appropriated. WWF and other NGO's are seeking an increase
in appropriations to $1.5 million for each fund, for a total $7.5
million. We believe that this increase is fully warranted because of
the urgent conservation needs these species and their habitats face,
the number of worthy projects that have gone without support, the
addition of the two new funds, and the outstanding record of the FWS in
administering the programs to date and the conservation results they
It may interest the subcommittee that several of the NGO's
represented here today are pursuing an initiative to augment the
funding provided for these programs through a possible series of
wildlife ``semi-postal'' stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service.
Modeled after the highly successful Breast Cancer Research Stamp, which
has generated over $19 million in funding for government breast cancer
research programs since its introduction in July 1998, a ``Vanishing
Wildlife'' stamp series could help raise additional funds for these FWS
programs. This could help shrink the gap between the Congressionally
authorized funding ceiling and the actual appropriation. Last year,
Congress transferred authority for the approval of semi-postal stamps
to the Postal Service, which is now preparing guidelines and criteria
for a 10-year program. We would be grateful for the subcommittee's
support in pursuing the wildlife semi-postal initiative and will keep
you informed accordingly.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify before the
subcommittee today. I will be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you very much, Ms. Hemley, and thank
all three of you for your testimony.
I would like to start with Mr. Rapp. In your full
testimony, you used a phrase called ``empty forest syndrome.''
Mr. Rapp. Yes.
Mr. Gilchrest. Could you explain that?
Mr. Rapp. Certainly. Empty forest syndrome refers to the
fact that the future for wildlife could very well be in empty
forests where the trees remain and some of the smaller species,
but the predators, the prey species, seed disbursers, and
fertilizers are vacant. And it wouldn't be the same forest as
we have today, and I think the funding from these Acts goes a
long way in keeping those species in the forests and the
habitats where they are from.
Mr. Gilchrest. So an empty forest syndrome disrupts the
natural mechanics of the ecological system in ways that we
probably would find it difficult to predict what that forest
would look like in the future?
Mr. Rapp. Very well said, and the way they would behave. I
mean, you take out these key species and things change
dramatically and it is not the same forest. Especially animals
like rhinos, elephants and tigers are extremely important to
habitats where they live in all sorts of ways that if you
remove them from the habitat, it is very much different; it is
not the same place.
Mr. Gilchrest. That phrase ``empty forest syndrome'' has a
deep, hollow loneliness to it.
Mr. Rapp. It does. It reminds me of ``Silent Spring.''
Mr. Gilchrest. Right. Jim, can you give us some idea of
what roles zoos play and might continue to play in the
propagation of threatened or endangered species as far as that
impact on releasing them to the wild and increasing species
Mr. Rapp. Absolutely. Our first goal truly is to prevent
that. I think the zoos are a stronghold in the very end as a
tool to preserve animal species from becoming extinct. Some of
the species we have talked about today--Sumatran tigers, Javan
rhinos--are in extreme decline. Less than a few hundred
individuals remain in those populations. For good genetic
viability, I think scientists would say that 2,000 to 3,000 are
needed to really remain healthy. Of course, if you fragment
populations, it gets even worse.
Zoos fundamentally, I believe personally, are really
education institutions first. I think our strongest asset lies
in the 130 million visitors--American citizens, tourists,
people from abroad--who come to see our collections. You
multiply that by the zoos worldwide and it can become a pretty
dramatic effect in bringing these concerns and problems to
However, on the scientific side of the zoo community, there
is a lot of work being done, all sorts of new technologies
available--in vitro fertilization, the frozen zoos--again,
last-ditch efforts that can be used to prevent animals from
becoming extinct. But when you take an animal like that and try
to release it back into the wild, it comes with costs. It is
not easy just to take an animal from a zoo, a captive-born
animal, and take it back to the wild. But in certain instances
it becomes quite effective to at least boost genetic viability
in wild populations.
So it is a last-ditch effort we would rather see not
happen, one reason why these funds are so important, but we are
involved very much in creating the technology today that can
help the wild and help field technicians in the work they are
doing in the countries where these animals live.
Mr. Gilchrest. Jim, in recent decades a number of
conservationists and biologists have had fairly strong negative
comments, and I think in the present-day situation-- at least
in most instances in the United States, it is not true, but a
number of conservationists have had very negative comments
about zoos and the number of species that were--the manner in
which those species were collected to bring to zoos and the
number of species that were threatened or endangered at the
time. And then because they were caught to bring to zoos, their
populations further declined.
Do you have any comment to those statements?
Mr. Rapp. Certainly. I think decades ago, zoos were
consumers of wildlife. ``Bring Them Back Alive'' Frank Buck and
characters like that going overseas to bring animals to this
country were the founding stock for a lot of animals in
collections in zoos and aquariums today.
At this point, I feel pretty safe to say that in this day
and age, when animals are brought into captivity, it is only
because the scientific community has suggested as a last-ditch
effort to bring animals from the wild into captivity for
captive breeding--California condors, black-footed ferrets, a
lot of the programs managed by Fish and Wildlife. The zoos have
had a tremendous impact in working with the technology in situ
in the zoo collections, out of the field, of course, also
educating the public.
I think the role has changed quite a bit. I know at our
collection at Salisbury, the only true wild animals we have in
our collection are animals that are brought to us for injuries.
We have bald eagles on exhibit. We have an orphaned river otter
that helped make up our collection. But I know for the majority
of zoos in this country, I think it is like 90 to 95 percent of
animals in collections today have been captive-bred.
Indeed, the technology for captive breeding is so far
advanced these days there really isn't a need to go to the wild
to supply zoos with animals. But, certainly, the history was
that. That is how zoos got started. We are much more involved
today than we were then.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you. Sort of an assisted living
facility for injured or aged animals.
Mr. Rapp. Very well said.
Mr. Gilchrest. That is good. I think we may have a second
round because I have some other questions, but I will yield now
to recognize Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly want
to thank our witnesses for their testimony. I do have a couple
Mr. Jones, in your efforts on behalf of our Government, and
I guess in your efforts in coordinating these three important
programs with the host countries, other than just to say that
we admire the beauty of these animals, can you share with the
Subcommittee why they are so important to the ecology? Why do
we have to look at protecting the elephants and the rhinos and
the tigers? Tigers eat other animals. Can you tell us how they
protect the biodiversity of the environment in which they live?
Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega. I would be pleased
to do that, and I would like to build on the response Mr. Rapp
just gave because if you think about that empty forest, or you
could think of it in the same way, an empty marsh or an empty
zone next to an island--if the coral reefs were gone or if the
migratory birds didn't come back every fall, that would be an
empty habitat. It is not the same thing.
In the same way, the habitats we are talking about for
these animals are all part of a web. If these, the major
species, sometimes referred to as keystone species, are not
present, everything else in that habitat suffers. Some species
that depend on them may indeed disappear. Others may actually
over-populate. If there are no tigers to keep deer numbers in
check within the habitat, then the deer may overpopulate and
eat the vegetation, and the result is then starvation and
population collapse. Birds, monkeys, and other species may in
Mr. Faleomavaega. What animals suffer if, let's say, the
elephant becomes extinct?
Mr. Jones. Elephants, for example, Mr. Faleomavaega,
maintain water holes. Elephants can dig for water, and in a
time of drought they will go to the dry riverbed. They dig,
they get to the water, they drink themselves. They are
prodigious drinkers of water, but they also make a place where
other animals then can come.
Mr. Faleomavaega. What about tigers?
Mr. Jones. Tigers are part of a natural fabric. They
certainly are predators. They even sometimes are predators on
humans, but they also are critical to the functioning of that
Mr. Faleomavaega. I have got a picture here, I think, on
the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, and you have got a
poacher here taking care of these ungulates that are supposed
to be one of the favorite species for tigers to eat. Shouldn't
we also be concerned about conserving this ungulate that the
tiger feeds on?
Mr. Jones. Absolutely. Mr. Faleomavaega, if there is no
prey species for tigers--if humans, for example, come in and
poach all of the deer or pigs out of an area, then regardless
of how good it may look to our eyes, to a tiger there is
nothing to eat. Those are all issues that we, working with the
partner organizations that are here today and with the range
countries, are working on to make sure there is an ecological
balance in these communities--that is, biological communities--
where these animals live.
Mr. Faleomavaega. You suggested earlier that you have some
suggestions on how we might better improve the reauthorization
of these legislations. Can you share with us in substance if
there are any critical areas that we really need to look at in
terms of improving the provisions of these proposed bills?
Mr. Jones. Yes, sir. One of the suggestions we have made is
to pick up language which is in one, but not all of the bills--
it is called Project Sustainability, but there is a lot more to
it than you might think just by seeing those words.
What we want to do is to have the authority to fund
projects which will be broadly sustainable. For example,
training programs where many of the participants are people who
are involved with rhinos or tigers or elephants, but maybe some
of them aren't. Would we want to train the game guards from
nine parks in a country which have elephants and say to the
tenth park, you don't have any elephants, so your game guards
can't come to the training? Tomorrow, the game guard who is at
that park may well be reassigned to another one.
Broad ecosystem projects which would result in benefits to
the habitat that is essential for the survival of the elephant
or the other species. These are the kinds of projects where we
may have funded some of those already, but we have been kind of
careful and we would like to have a more explicit congressional
Mr. Faleomavaega. Now, in response to some of these
countries that we are working in with these programs, do you
sometimes get the idea that we are telling these countries what
to do? How receptive have they been in our efforts in trying to
work with them closely and making sure that we are not
overbearing and saying we know better what should be done with
these animals? Perhaps these animals live the way they do as
best suited with the way those host countries provide for them.
I don't know. Tell us which countries have been the most
critical of these programs.
Mr. Jones. Mr. Faleomavaega, I am not sure that I know of
any country that has been critical of these programs. We have
some countries that we don't work in right now, but they are
mostly countries that are too dangerous for us and countries
that the U.S. State Department has advised us not to go into.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Like?
Mr. Jones. Angola is a country that is still in civil war
with mine fields and other dangers. We want to work there.
But going to your main point, we have learned from our
experience that it doesn't work to go into a country and try to
tell them how their wildlife should be managed. That does not
work. We work with partners to respond when they come to us. A
partner may come to us and say, we are interested in a project
in country ``x.'' Let's say it is Nepal. We are not going to go
ahead and fund that project unless we know that the government
of Nepal agrees that this is a good project that fits within
their view of the cultural and biological priorities for their
country. If Nepal says no, regardless of what we may think,
that is not a viable project and we won't fund it. We will say
instead to Nepal, well, what kind of projects might be a
priority for you, and then work to structure a program that
meets their needs.
Mr. Faleomavaega. The other concern I may have also, Mr.
Jones, is that a country may have a critical need, but we are
putting the carrot out there, like if you don't conform to what
we expect you to do, then we won't give you the funding. Do you
find that perhaps this is something that we could also learn to
adjust in terms of how we can best assist these countries?
Mr. Jones. There is no doubt, Mr. Faleomavaega, that we can
always learn to do things better, and we are always looking for
ways that we can make sure that we are a good partner and not a
dictator. So we would be pleased to talk to you further or to
get any advice that you might have from your experience about
how we can make sure that that doesn't happen.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Well, there is an African proverb--I know
my time is almost up--that I want to share with the Chairman
that says that when two African elephants fight, the grass is
trodden. But those of us from the islands say when two
elephants make love, the grass is still trodden.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gilchrest. I think the grass will grow back, Eni.
We are joined by the gentleman from California, Mr. Pombo.
Mr. Pombo. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think, to follow up
on what Mr. Faleomavaega was talking about, unquestionably
there are times when other countries feel like if they don't do
it our way, they are in trouble. But I do think that, in the
aggregate, these programs have been very worthwhile.
Something Mr. Jones just said was that the purpose of this
program is not to dictate to other countries how to manage
their wildlife, but to assist them in managing their wildlife,
which is very much, in my opinion, the basis for CITES, not to
dictate to an individual country what they can and can't do,
but to assist them in conserving their endangered species.
I wanted to start with Ms. Hemley. Your organization or the
organization that you represent has done some very good things
to help with conservation, and I am familiar with some of the
things that they have done in Africa. I was wondering if you
could explain to the Subcommittee how some of these grants are
used. Give me an example of a specific project, how the money
was used, and what the result was of that particular project,
just so that we understand exactly how this money is being
Ms. Hemley. I would be happy to, Mr. Pombo. World Wildlife
Fund is both a recipient organization for some grants and we
also are a co-funder in many places in the world, which I think
is an example of how well these programs work. They are helping
us to get matching amounts of support.
In parts of Asia, we have received funds, for example, in
Vietnam to protect a very, very endangered population of Javan
rhino. It is the vestigial population that was only recently
rediscovered by Western scientists in the last 10 years. It is
such a dire situation that there are needs across all fronts,
helping to develop an education program for local people to
appreciate this heritage they have left in this rhino that has
only recently been rediscovered.
We have been helping with training of wildlife managers
around the area in Vietnam, and we have been helping with the
government to get stronger legislation passed, as well, to
ensure that this critical habitat is protected well into the
future. So, that is one area where we have, I think, been able
to cross various types of project activities.
Mr. Pombo. One of the things in your testimony that you
talked about was you used the phrase that the habitat is highly
threatened. I know in every different habitat there are
different threats to that habitat. Can you give the
Subcommittee an idea of what some of those threats are in
Ms. Hemley. Sure. I think perhaps one good example, because
the situation is so critical, is in Southeast Asia,
particularly in Sumatra, where in the last few years, according
to World Bank satellite imagery data, the rate of forest
conversion is probably twice as great as we thought it was
three or four years ago today. I mean, it is changing so
quickly, and the biggest force behind that change is conversion
to develop oil palm plantations and paper pulp plantations.
These are areas that are critical not for just one of these
species under consideration, but for three--Asian elephants,
the tiger, and the Sumatran rhino. A lot of the conversion is
the result of increased trade and importation of these products
to East Asia, China, Japan. But this, for us, is one of the
most urgent situations in terms of critical habitats today.
This is tropical lowland forest, of which there is very little
remaining in Southeast Asia, and it happens to be areas where
three of these very important species live. So, that is one
Similarly, in other parts of Asia--in India, where you have
got now over 1 billion people, wildlife is left in a handful of
parks. They have been established and in place for a good
while, but these parks--there is very little buffer zone around
most of these parks in India. Yet, they are perhaps the last
hope for the Bengal tiger, for example.
The encroachment from human populations for agriculture and
development related to human survival is really the big threat
to the habitats there. So it is essentially human population
pressures, together with pressures resulting from exploitation
for commercial purposes, are the two big threats to a lot of
the habitats that these species live in.
Mr. Pombo. The Committee had the opportunity, a number of
us, to go to Africa and look at different management schemes
for wildlife, and we looked at national parks and the
management tools that they use at highly managed national
parks. We looked at privately-run parks or game preserves and
the ability that they had to maintain the wildlife in those
areas. Then we looked at some of the broader areas,
particularly in places like Zimbabwe where the people in those
particular regions had the ability to manage the wildlife in
their particular areas.
In all three of the different management schemes that we
looked at, they were able to preserve the wildlife in those
particular areas, and in most instances had the ability to
build on their numbers, in some cases to the point where they
had more animals than the carrying capacity of the land.
Do you look at all those different options for managing
habitats as a way of returning some value to the people who
live in those areas so that they don't have to go in and
bulldoze thousands of acres to plant some kind of agriculture?
Is that an option that you are looking at in terms of some of
the work that your organization has done?
Ms. Hemley. Absolutely, and I think there are two areas in
the world that highlight that type of approach which
essentially we would call community-based conservation
involving the local communities that live around the protected
areas where these animals live.
In Zimbabwe, as you say, the national law allows limited
hunting and the fees from hunting are returned to local
communities in a managed way. That is one place where that kind
of approach might work.
Another country where community-based conservation has been
very effective is Nepal, where ecotourism has been very much a
revenue generator. One of the great values of the system in
Nepal is that the national law allows for the recycling of
tourist revenues back into local conservation, which is not
usually the case. Usually, those monies go into the national
treasury. But in Nepal they have got a model law that allows
the funds to go back into the communities to develop
agriculture that is consistent with conservation and different
approaches for even limited harvesting of timber in these
So it is absolutely important, in our view, in virtually
every place we work that you have got to involve local
communities and find incentives for conservation, and those
incentives can take a range or different forms.
Mr. Pombo. Thank you very much.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Pombo.
Mr. Jones, having a long history of CITES, and certainly
with this issue and the development of this issue, and having
some idea, I guess, of the land area that is now set aside or
proposed to be set aside for these various species that we are
talking about this morning, do you have some idea--and this
relates a little bit to Mr. Pombo's question about carrying
capacity--do you have some idea of the maximum population that
we can expect to sustain in the areas that you are now working
with for the African elephant, the Asian elephant, the tiger,
the rhino, and perhaps other species?
I guess I ask the question, do you have some idea of an
area that 100 elephants need or 1,000 elephants need, or the
rhinos in Southeast Asia or in India or Africa? Has there been
any type of study to understand carrying capacity for these
animals, and if there has been, can that population that we
have heard this morning is very fragmented, greatly diminished,
sustain itself without the burdens of in-breeding?
Mr. Jones. That is an excellent and a pretty complicated
question, Mr. Chairman, since we are talking about a number of
different species that occur in different areas.
We have had the privilege of having Mr. Pombo with us the
last two CITES Conferences of the Parties, in Zimbabwe and then
in Kenya. Just between those two countries, there are some
ecological differences, so that an area of the same size in the
lower Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe might support more elephants,
for example, than an equal-sized area in a very dry part of
Kenya way up near the northern border where you are almost into
When you expand that to look at rhinos and other species, I
am certainly not the one who is best qualified probably to
comment on this. I am going to turn to Mr. Stansell in just a
minute, but I would say that all of the organizations here have
been involved in these kinds of studies--the World Wildlife
Fund, the AZA, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and others--
scientific studies to look at that very question because it is
also often a question of the human population in the area.
Elephants, for example, are a species that is very
dangerous. Tigers are also dangerous. But elephants overall are
probably one of the most dangerous species on Earth, not just
to human life but also to property, because elephants can
destroy crops. And in an area where there is a high human
population, the elephants, in fact, might do just fine. They
will be very pleased to come in every night and eat the
farmer's corn, but the farmer isn't going to survive.
So we need to find the right balance and have areas where
elephants can have the natural food they need, and then find
innovative ways where elephants and people can coexist. Because
of fragmented habitat, there are some areas where elephant
populations just are not viable anymore, not because the
elephants wouldn't live there but because the human presence is
too great to be able to deal with them.
But, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, let me ask Mr.
Stansell to comment for a second about his experience. He has
spent a lot of time in Africa himself and probably has some
thoughts on this.
Mr. Stansell. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think Marshall has
covered the issue. Particularly under our various grant
programs, I think it is very important to recognize that we
really do look to the range countries and what their priorities
for their resources are.
There is a tremendous amount of information out there and
we would be happy to provide that to the Subcommittee as far as
varying estimates of population levels by species. There is a
lot of information available on that and all of that
information is taken into account as we are trying to identify
projects to help support the conservation of those species.
But as Marshall indicated, carrying capacity is one factor.
You certainly want to be at a little bit below carrying
capacity to make sure that you don't get into habitat damage.
With a species as big as elephants, they modify the landscape,
and so it is important that we understand those factors as we
are trying to help through this grant program to provide that
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you.
Ms. Hemley, do you care to comment on that question and
then the concept of a conservation corridor? Is that suitable
for these large species? Would it have any positive effect to
link certain areas that are set aside?
Ms. Hemley. To answer that question first, as I said in my
comments, a number of conservation organizations are taking a
new approach to conservation that involves looking at larger
scales of areas spatially than ever before, for the reason that
these large species--elephants, tigers, and rhinos are
paramount among them--need these areas.
When you have a species like the tiger which, depending on
the density of the prey, may require several hundred square
miles for its home range, it needs to be able to move between
forest areas in order to hunt, to breed, reproduce, and then
rebuild new populations.
Mr. Gilchrest. So you are saying that a tiger might take
advantage of a corridor?
Ms. Hemley. A tiger is a good species; in fact, a species
that we are using in some of our work in Asia to design and
look at landscape needs for conservation. If you can address
the needs for a tiger's survival, you are effectively
conserving a broad landscape that then will, of course, benefit
many other species.
In Nepal, in one area, we are actually looking at a very
large--what we are calling one grand wildlife corridor, what we
call the Terai Arc, that aims to link 11 protected areas. It is
a very big, ambitious project. It will involve a lot of
forestry and reforesting these corridors and working with local
people to make sure--
Mr. Gilchrest. Does it involve purchasing land, then?
Ms. Hemley. It will in some cases, but most of this land
is, in fact, state land, and we are now working with the
government to come up with agreements that work for the local
people and will allow them to use the strips of land alongside
these corridors to continue to harvest the forest products in
these areas so that they can still benefit from it. We are
right now undertaking analyses to identify the bottlenecks that
need to be addressed first.
Mr. Gilchrest. How wide would this corridor be, or how wide
would you like to see it?
Ms. Hemley. Well, it will vary in different places, but it
could be as small as a couple of miles wide in one area and
then larger in other areas. But it straddles the Nepal-India
border and is something that is a high, high priority for us.
We hope in the next couple of years to have more to report on
how this big, ambitious effort is going.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you. I guess we could continue this,
but the hearing room is needed by another Subcommittee
Mr. Faleomavaega, any follow-up questions?
Mr. Faleomavaega. A real quick question, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Hemley, I was fascinated by your testimony in terms of
looking at the big picture. As you may be aware, two-thirds of
the world's population is in the Asia-Pacific region, and so
the density of the population per whatever area and how you may
want to measure--looking at the climate now even among the
industrialized countries, the global economy and globalization
of this and that, where are we going to find the forests to
provide for the species of these animals, not just the tiger
and the rhino and the elephant?
You are saying something that is understandable, but when
the human species comes to the forefront and says, look, I need
that extra space to live--we have got 1.2 billion people living
in China, over 1 billion in India. When you talk about reality,
when the rubber meets the road, who should be preserved, the
humans or the animals?
Ms. Hemley. That is kind of the big question, isn't it? I
appreciate that. I guess one response would be that I think the
conservation community certainly recognizes that, and Asia is a
huge challenge because of the human population growth there.
That is why we are becoming more strategic than ever before in
I mentioned a report that the World Wildlife Fund and the
Wildlife Conservation Society prepared, with support from the
Save the Tiger Fund, a few years ago. It was the first ever
analysis that really took a large mammal, in this case the
tiger, and looked at all of its critical habitats. The tiger
lives in 13 or 14 countries in Asia. We know we probably can't
save the tiger everywhere. We have to be strategic, and what we
have done is we have picked 25, 26 areas that we consider the
highest priorities, but we are recommending that greatest
attention be put on these areas across Asia.
And perhaps we have to say that in some areas the tiger
will not survive, but in these areas that we have identified we
believe the tiger does have a good chance of long-term
Mr. Faleomavaega. Let me share with you a reality. I know
my time is running, but Senator Inouye from Hawaii, I think,
two years ago went to North Korea. Here is the capital of this
country, in the millions. There were no birds; he could not see
one bird flying, and then when he went out into the country, no
trees. I mean, can you just imagine what that state of
existence must be like?
I know the island of Guam, Mr. Chairman, is having real
problems with brown tree snakes. That whole ecosystem in terms
of the birds there in Guam is almost gone because of this
predator, the brown tree snake. Should we be concerned about
conserving the brown tree snake, or should it be the birds?
Ms. Hemley. In Guam?
Mr. Faleomavaega. In Guam.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. Pombo. Thank you.
Mr. Jones, although I think these programs have done some
good and will continue to do some good, it seems apparent to me
that no matter how much money we spend, we can't save these
species, other than actions that are taken in the host
countries of those particular species. That is really what is
going to turn it around. We can be helpful, we can give them
advice, we can help them to develop management programs. But
unless they are willing to do that and have a real incentive to
do that, we are not going to turn these species around.
One of the things that struck me the most in Africa was
that as you went from country to country, you saw a huge
difference in the habitat just across a fence, across a border,
and a lot of that was driven by not the particular management
schemes that the countries employed, but the political
stability of those particular areas.
I know you have seen it because you have spent time over
there as well, but I just think that as we move ahead with this
legislation, I don't know how we do any more to bring political
stability and a willingness on the part of some of our partners
in this. But I think that is going to be the key to the
survival of a number of these species.
We saw the difference between Southern Africa and Kenya in
the way that they managed their large-mammal populations,
particularly elephants, and the difference in poaching and the
difference in the carrying capacity that they had to deal with.
I just think that we can do some good with this, but being able
to, by ourselves, reach out to these countries is just not
going to happen. I know that you know that and have been
But as we get into the future, Mr. Chairman, hopefully you
will have the opportunity to see some of these areas because
the political stability in an area and the incentives that we
give or the countries give the local people that live there
make a bigger difference than anything we can say or do here.
I do have additional questions for Mr. Jones. I would like
to submit those in writing. I know we have another panel, but
thank you very much.
Mr. Gilchrest. Well said, Mr. Pombo.
Mr. Faleomavaega. Mr. Chairman, I also would like to submit
additional questions for the members of the panel for follow-up
for the record.
Mr. Gilchrest. Without objection, both sets of questions
will be submitted to the record and sent off to our witnesses.
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Mr. Gilchrest. We will do all we can. I certainly would
enjoy traveling to the areas that you think would be in most
need of our attention. We will make every attempt to do that
during this session of Congress.
I want to thank all of you for your energy, your knowledge,
your patience, your persistence, and your lifelong effort in
this most worthy cause. Thank you all very much.
Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rapp. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Hemley. Thank you.
Mr. Gilchrest. Our next panel will be Mr. John Berry,
Executive Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Ms.
Karen Steuer, Director of the Commercial Exploitation and Trade
Program, International Fund for Animal Welfare; Dr. John
Robinson, Senior Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society;
Mr. John Kirtland, Executive Vice President of Animal
Stewardship, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus;
and Dr. Tom Foose, Program Director, International Rhino
I think we have a vote. I ask unanimous consent from the
Members and the witnesses--don't object, I hope. We are going
to take a 10-minute break. Relax, have a cup of coffee. I will
be back in 10 minutes.
Mr. Gilchrest. The hearing has already come to order. One
of the former Merchant Marine and Fisheries staff members who,
I guess, is still here was encouraging me to crank this up, so
we will get them moving.
Thank you for coming this morning, and we look forward to
your testimony to add to the information and the knowledge that
we have acquired this morning. Once again, in case I miss
saying this at the end of the hearing, we appreciate all your
efforts in this issue, and we will continue to be optimistic
that we will be successful as humans to preserve some of the
wildlife heritage that this planet has been so blessed with for
so long a period of time.
We will start with Mr. John Berry.
STATEMENT OF JOHN BERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL FISH AND
Mr. Berry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to
appear before you today in support of H.R. 645, and I would
especially like to thank you and the members of the Committee
for the leadership and vision that you have brought to this
important conservation issue, as well as the professionalism
and dedication of your excellent staff. It has been a real
pleasure working with them.
My name is John Berry and I am the Executive Director of
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit
foundation created by the Congress to foster healthy
populations of fish, wildlife, and plants for the next
One of our most important programs has been the Save the
Tiger Fund, which was created in partnership with an
outstanding corporate leader, ExxonMobil, whose generosity will
have provided by the end of next year over $9 million to the
Save the Tiger Fund, an investment that I believe is unrivaled
in corporate conservation philanthropy.
It took a great deal of courage for ExxonMobil to initiate
this project in 1995, in the face of dire expert and widespread
press predictions that the tiger would likely be extinct by the
year 2000. Both the Federal funding provided by the Rhinoceros
and Tiger Conservation Act to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the private dollars brought to bear by ExxonMobil,
our Foundation, and other conservation organizations have
seamlessly woven together to reverse those dire predictions and
give renewed hope that the tiger can survive in the wild.
The Save the Tiger Fund has proven the old model of keeping
tigers and humans apart does not work. If we are to succeed,
tigers must be seen as an integral part of a healthy landscape
and important to human prosperity in Asia and Russia. Long-
term, sustainable habitat management also protects key
watershed areas, helping not only tigers, but all who live and
rely upon those waters downstream. Sustainable forestry
practices save tigers and jobs, as does careful ecotourism.
We are here today with good news, Mr. Chairman. Your
investment and that of ExxonMobil have made a real difference.
Tiger populations have stabilized in every area where funding
has been intensely invested.
In the Russian Far East, for example, poachers had nearly
wiped out all remaining Siberian tigers, leaving only
approximately 200 alive in the mid-1990's. After targeting more
than $1.5 million of investments in this region, in a multi-
layered approach that included forming anti-poaching patrols
with retired and unemployed Russian military personnel,
educating schoolchildren and families in adjacent communities,
acquiring and protecting key habitat parcels, and pursuing
better science, today's population now stands at more than 400
tigers, steady, and we hope, growing.
In India and Nepal, community woodlots have been created to
eliminate the need to take firewood from protected tiger
habitat areas. In China and across Asia, working with
practitioners of traditional medicine and with culturally-
sensitive advertising campaigns, we are beginning to reduce the
demand for tiger parts, so that, as Jackie Chan says in one of
the advertising campaigns "When the buying stops, the killing
The fight is far from over. We know almost nothing of the
South China tiger, and given the lack of conservation
capability in China, the South China tiger may well already be
lost. In Burma/ Myanmar, biologists found incredibly rich tiger
habitat recently, but no tigers. You heard the previous panel
discuss the empty forest syndrome. This is the ghostly result
of continued black market poaching in those areas.
Logging and growth pressures continue to press forward. But
at the same time, good news has been found in Cambodia, for
example, and great tiger partnerships are underway, forming
along the very rich Terai Arc on the border between India and
Nepal. I believe that success is within our grasp if we can
stay the course. We must make tigers worth more alive than
We must build the support of people who live near tigers
and of political and economic leaders in those nations. We need
to continue to build and grow partnerships with local
communities, and we will continue to need money. From the
nickels raised by school kids in Arizona selling pickles to
contribute their $135 to the Save the Tiger Fund, to the
millions provided by ExxonMobil and this Congress, every penny
is making a difference in creating a world where mystery,
wildness, beauty, and tigers can continue to burn bright.
Thank you, and I will be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Berry follows:]
STATEMENT OF JOHN BERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL FISH AND WILDLIFE
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. Thank you
for the opportunity to testify today in strong support of H.R. 645, the
Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Reauthorization Act. I am John Berry,
Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which
is a nonprofit foundation established by the 98th Congress. The
Foundation was created to support a growth economy for conservation
solutions by connecting the skills, resources and goals of private and
public partners in innovative ways. Our program with ExxonMobil, the
Save The Tiger Fund, is the perfect example of a successful public-
private partnership for conservation, and I am pleased to provide you
testimony on behalf of both the Save The Tiger Fund and the National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation. We have worked closely and cooperatively
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the past several years.
Our direct experience in tiger conservation experience leads us to
believe that the ongoing congressional appropriations for this Act are
a sound investment. The following testimony, which is excerpted from a
report recently prepared by the Foundation on behalf of the Save The
Tiger Fund, provides a detailed overview of the status of wild tigers
and the impact of such conservation efforts as those of the Rhinoceros
and Tiger Conservation Act and the Save The Tiger Fund.
Saving tigers is about people. Humans and tigers are neighbors and
it is a relationship fraught with hazards for both sides. It is at once
a simple truth--and a complicated notion--that saving Asia's remaining
wild tigers requires engaging the millions of people who live near the
tiger. The challenges facing the tiger are as diverse as the many
languages of the people who live near it, but the reasons for saving
the tiger are remarkably straightforward: to preserve this keystone
predator is to conserve its habitat, which in turn benefits the
cornucopia of other species that share the same home, including humans.
Support for tiger conservation is dependent on people who coexist
with tigers believing that this effort enhances the prospect for a more
materially, emotionally and spiritually worthwhile life for themselves,
their families and communities. For many people, tigers are the stuff
of ancient myth and legend. They also are powerful predators who live
on- land that provides some of the most fertile and abundant natural
resources for humans and wildlife alike. Often referred to as an
umbrella species, this large carnivore ranges over vast territory that
typically supports a myriad of complex flora and fauna. Save the tiger
and you save an entire ecosystem.
TIGERS ON THE EDGE
In 1995, Asia's wild tigers were in alarming and widespread decline
throughout their range. At the beginning of the 20th century, when
William Blake immortalized the tiger in poetry and Rudyard Kipling
introduced Shere Khan to the literary world, an estimated 100,000
tigers roamed the Asian continent. But the ensuing decades treated the
tiger no more kindly than so many other species of large predators.
Human population growth and the resulting loss of habitat drove tigers
from their former homes, while the over-harvest of prey species starved
the cat and trophy hunting, followed by rampant poaching, took its
Initial conservation efforts centered on passing game laws and
creating reserves, but problems for the tiger grew steadily. Three of
the animal's eight subspecies were extinct by 1980. In the early
1990's, crisis flared and the possibility of species extinction seemed
more than prophecy. Many conservationists and biologists--working
mostly in isolation from one another and focusing their energies
narrowly on tiger biology and petty turf tussles--had become complacent
and were caught off guard by the wave of poisoning, poaching and
trafficking in wild tigers. Respected biologists glumly predicted
extinction by the year 2000. A 1994 Time cover story shouted that the
tiger was ``Doomed!'' An estimated 5,000-7,000 tigers remained in all
of Asia--fewer tigers on an entire continent than there were humans in
a few city blocks of New York City or Calcutta.
Consider the ``official'' tiger population numbers in 1994-95
(quoted in Tilson 1996):
South China: 30 or fewer
In 1995, the Save The Tiger Fund (STF) was created by the Exxon
Corporation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The two
organizations had first joined to support research on the Amur tiger in
the Russian Far East in 1991. But the tiger crisis of the early 1990's
made it clear that something more substantial was needed. Exxon agreed
to commit a minimum of $5 million over five years and bring to bear its
worldwide network of companies, shareholders, and customers to support
tigers through the STF. Exxon's commitment marked one of the largest
corporate financial commitments to saving a species ever made. In turn,
the Foundation anted up its conservation credibility and grantsmanship
competence. Recognizing the need for direct tiger expertise, the
Foundation formed the Save The Tiger Fund Council, a panel of volunteer
experts, to assist the Foundation in guiding the overall direction of
the STF and its project investments.
Proclaiming an intent to ``save'' the tiger was a bold and far-
reaching goal amidst the tiger crisis of the mid 1990's. Until the STF
began increasing investments in basic monitoring and research, no one
could make more than an educated guess as to how many tigers might
remain in corners of Asia. Until the STF used its influence to
encourage cooperation among tiger biologists, there was little
collaborative work underway and no overall assessment of tiger
conservation priorities existed. The Save The Tiger Fund's six-year
history has marked its growth from a bold concept to a cornerstone of
tiger conservation initiatives. Calling the Save The Tiger Fund
``catalytic'' in the conservation world, Kathryn Fuller, President of
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and STF partner observed:
``The Fund has encouraged non-governmental organizations to
cooperate, pool resources, and share the limelight: tiger experts are
now talking to one another and joining forces more often, giving rise
to larger landscape-level programs that are increasing the tiger's
chance for long-term survival in the wild.''
Against the odds and all predictions, wild tigers survive today.
They still prowl the western Terai of India and Nepal, the mangrove
swamps of Bangladesh, the untamed borderlands of Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia and the vast boreal forests of the Russian Far East. It is
neither bold nor boastful to say that the STF has played a pivotal role
in helping to secure this stability.
Despite these gains, optimism must be tempered with vigilance for
the tiger's status remains tenuous and fragile. It is both an urgent
and hopeful forecast to predict that the continued investment and
stability of the Save The Tiger Fund and other similar efforts will be
critical to ensuring a future for the tiger and its many human
neighbors. It is a measure of the STF's success that the present has
been secured for this majestic species. And it is the Foundation's
belief that this unique partnership provides a genuine opportunity to
create a sustainable future for wild tigers and their landscapes.
A MODEL OF SUCCESS
In six years, the Save The Tiger Fund has invested more than $8.3
million in 142 projects throughout 12 of the 14 tiger range states. The
STF has taken a multi-layered approach to tiger conservation, providing
flexible grants to tackle the diverse problems of multiple cultures and
regions throughout the tiger's range. These grants have ranged from
health clinics in rural Indian villages and educational programs for
schoolchildren in China, to anti-poaching teams in Thailand and habitat
acquisitions in Russia.
The largest amount of STF funding--more than $3.3 million--has gone
to field study and management projects. The Save The Tiger Fund has
directed $1.3 million to 31 projects supporting anti-poaching, conflict
resolution and tiger trade reduction. More than $2.1 million has gone
to conservation education and $773,000 has been earmarked for habitat
restoration and protection to date. By region, STF funding has been
split nearly evenly between the Indian subcontinent, at $1.85 million,
and the Russian Far East, at $1.71 million. STF projects in Southeast
Asia have topped $1.3 million; in Sumatra, nearly $870,000.
But conservation success does not merely reside in tabulations of
numbers and project listings. Rather it lies in the thoughtful and
cooperative efforts behind them. The Save The Tiger Fund's investments,
along with the vision and commitment behind them, reinvigorated the
tiger conservation community at a time of great crisis, when some were
tempted to give up. It also helped to vitalize tiger conservation by
focusing on the human side of the equation. For 25 years,
conservationists tried to save tigers by keeping people and tigers
apart. Thoughtful, diversified investments by the STF have assisted
conservationists as they devise ways to keep people and tigers
together, so both prosper in the future Asian landscape. The STF has
drawn upon its Council members, ExxonMobil, and numerous conservation
organizations and individuals to develop a program that:
1. Increases the impact and availability of funding for priority
2. Invests in a diversified and sustained conservation portfolio.
3. Forges partnerships to create new breadth and depth in tiger
4. Addresses the root of tiger conservation problems.
5. Tolerates risk and remains flexible to accommodate new
6. Invests in conservation leadership throughout tiger range.
7. Lays the groundwork for future tiger conservation.
This report examines each of these attributes to appraise the
activities of the Save The Tiger Fund, ascertain the conservation
impact of its actions, and glean the lessons learned for future
1. Increase Funding Impact and Availability.
``We believe that [partnerships] provide opportunities for creative
solutions to a wide range of conservation and environmental challenges.
Exxon is committed to tiger conservation--helping to save a legendary
beast.'' Lee Raymond, Chairman, ExxonMobil Corporation
Today, according to a study by the Zoological Society of London
(Christie 2000,) the STF provided more than 28 percent of all tiger
conservation funding worldwide in the past two years. ExxonMobil's
initial $5 million pledge in 1995 has grown to a $9 million pledge
through 2002. To date, ExxonMobil has contributed more than $8.2
million to the Save The Tiger Fund. This commitment permeates the
corporation's worldwide operations, from corporate headquarters to
Asian subsidiaries to local service stations, to employee volunteers.
Through collaborative efforts between the Foundation and
ExxonMobil, the STF has offered an unprecedented opportunity for public
and private sectors to participate directly in a global effort to save
wild tigers, raising snore than $1.4 million to date. Special marketing
promotions and targeted international contributions from ExxonMobil
marketing efforts and international Esso operations have attracted more
than $600,000. ExxonMobil employees have volunteered their time and
energy for STF events and activities. Walt Disney, the Discovery
Channel, and other private corporations, foundations and organizations
have donated more than $200,000. Some 15,000 individual donations have
been made to the STF, totaling more than $580,000. These gifts have
ranged from a $68,000 anonymous donation from Switzerland, to $400
raised by an elementary school bake sale in New Jersey, to a $20 check
sent by an elderly woman from Wisconsin, who accompanied her
contribution with a hand-written elegy to the tiger. Boyfriends have
honored their sweethearts with contributions, office colleagues have
donated in the name of a hard-to-buy-for boss, and children have sent
poems and crayon drawings with their dollars.
Twice yearly ExxonMobil distributes 150,000 copies of its Tiger
Watch newsletter to teachers, students, shareholders and other tiger
fans throughout the world. The response can be poignant and heartening.
Nine-year-old Nicole Gaither of Southlake, Texas just completed her
third annual book sale. Using her own tiger-striped flier to urge
residents to donate books, Nicole has raised more than $1,800 so far
for tigers. Sixth-grade students in Gulf Stream, Florida, raised $102
for the STF with a raffle and meatball sale. In Phoenix, Arizona,
elementary school students sold pickles for 50 cents each, raising
another $153 for the Save The Tiger Fund.
The Save The Tiger Fund has become a catalyst for tiger fund-
raising both directly and indirectly. Donations to the Russian Far East
increased as a result of publicity arising from the 1998 Year of the
Tiger Conference, sponsored by the STF and ExxonMobil (Christie 2000.)
Internationally renowned entertainers, Siegfried & Roy, have joined the
STF in promoting tiger conservation. And tiger mascots are helping real
tigers through the alumni and students of the University of Missouri.
Finally, the Foundation's historical involvement in leveraging legal
settlement funds for conservation has resulted in the payment of
restitution funds from a Federal investigation into tiger trafficking
to the STF to enable and promote high priority tiger conservation.
In addition to raising funds and grant making, the Save The Tiger
Fund is committed to accountability. Conscious of a longstanding
criticism that large sums of money are raised on the back of the tiger
without ever making it to the ground for tangible conservation efforts,
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation takes a 10-percent management
fee while investing all remaining contributed funds and accrued
interest straight into projects. STF accounts are audited as part of
the Foundation's annual audit.
2. Diverse and Sustained Conservation Investments.
The Russian Far East provides an excellent example of the Save The
Tiger Fund's return on investment and its lasting conservation impact.
It is a case study of the diverse and effective conservation efforts
the STF is facilitating throughout tiger range. First, a few statistics
to set the tiger conservation stage:
1. In the period 1990-1993, it is estimated that poachers
killed one-third of Russia's remaining tigers. Just 200 to 250
tigers existed in 1994. Poachers were killing tigers at a rate
of 50 to 75 a year. Simple math added up to tiger extinction by
the year 2000.
2. Although Russian biologists were sounding the alarm,
conservation groups were finding it nearly impossible to gain
traction on the ground and maneuver through the political
thicket of the turf wars raging among politicians and
In 1991, the Foundation and Exxon began supporting Amur tiger
studies conducted by Hornocker Wildlife Institute (now part of the
Wildlife Conservation Society) in the Russian Far East. But as tiger
poaching escalated, scientists working in Russia confronted the horror
of seeing their study tigers killed almost in front of their eyes. If
they were ever to learn about tiger ecology, they would have to address
the complicated issue of demand for tiger parts. With the creation of
the Save The Tiger Fund, the investments in the Amur region increased
and gained greater focus.
The STF continued its support of the Hornocker Institute, believing
they had the strongest connections with Russian scientists and the most
experience tracking and monitoring tigers. In addition, the Save The
Tiger Fund branched out, awarding a grant to a relatively obscure
operative in the conservation community, Steve Galster, of Global
Survival Network (now Wi1dAid) who had managed to gain local buy-in for
aggressive anti-poaching teams. The STF also invested dollars for land
acquisition, expanding the boundaries of Sikhote-Alin Reserve, at the
core of prime tiger habitat in the region. The STF further supported
Russian-based community outreach programs and publications such as Zov
Taigi, which targeted educational programs to school children and
forest communities most affected by tigers. The STF underwrote its
grantees to reach out and cultivate local leadership and build local
capacity as an integral part of project design. Finally, the STF worked
to encourage partnerships between all of these groups and the people
and governments they worked with.
In all, the Save The Tiger Fund has targeted more than $1.71
million in six years to the Russian Far East, making STF the region's
second largest investor in tiger conservation (second only to WWF/GEF.)
Central to this support was the conscious effort to diversify grant
commitments, attempting to pinpoint what Council Chairman John
Seidensticker labels as the ``Four C's``--carnivores, connections, core
habitats, and community support. Absent diligent and adaptive attention
to each of these critical components, conservation efforts in the
Russian Far East and elsewhere are ultimately doomed to failure.
As a result of these ongoing investments, STF's Russian Far East
portfolio in 2001 includes:
1. Support for the Hornocker Wildlife Institute/WCS for
undertaking solid, biology-based conservation projects. The
work has broadened to include an intimate working relationship
with the dozen preeminent Russian biologists in the region.
Collectively, these scientists have one of the most
comprehensive understandings of tiger behavior in all of the
2. Operation Amba--the Russian anti-poaching teams--succeeded
beyond anyone's expectations, convincing former poachers to
cross the line to work for the good guys, protecting tigers
from the guns, snares and poisons of other poachers. Tiger
poaching plummeted by 60 percent, and many credit Operation
Amba with saving the Amur tiger from extinction. Understanding
the price for complacency, Operation Amba and it partners
recently stepped up patrols and arrested an aggressive poaching
ring in an undercover sting operation. WildAid is working to
expand the Operation Amba model to create new anti-poaching
projects in Cambodia and Thailand with the Save The Tiger
3. Carrying the investment formula to its logical conclusion,
Dale Miquelle of Hornocker/WCS worked with Steve Galster of
WildAid to help the anti-poaching teams set up their own local
organization, the Phoenix Fund, and transfer the anti-poaching
project into the hands of Russians. The Save The Tiger Fund
continues to support the Phoenix Fund and is working to help
them expand their own fund-raising capabilities as they move
toward becoming a self-sustaining, locally driven program that
won't go away when the foreigners do. In the years since the
launch of the STF, the dollar investment in Russian tiger
conservation has grown steadily. More importantly, the growth
in investments in Russian agencies and local leadership has
accelerated as well.
4. Zov Taigi is now considered the authoritative source of
environmental news for the Russian Far East. They have
sponsored photo and art contests, produced public service
announcements, and generated a twice-monthly, 20-minute TV
series that reaches 50,000 viewers. The group has translated
some 100 tiger articles into Russian and English, making them
available in government archives as well as on their
sophisticated web site. The local efforts of this group to
educate Russian forest communities and reduce human/tiger
conflicts have touched thousands of rural schoolchildren in
tiger range villages. Entire communities draw together each
year to celebrate the tiger in events such as a Tiger Day
parade in Vladivostok.
Today the wild tiger population of the Russian Far East holds
steady at 400-plus animals. Official Russian Federation customs data
show that the volume of illegal contraband produced for the Chinese
market (tiger skins, bones and derivatives) has decreased dramatically.
The Russian Federation special forces anti-poaching team claims that
tiger poaching has been reduced by more than 60 percent. And regional
law enforcement data reveals that the number of people killed in direct
confrontation with tigers has dropped significantly. Presently, the
tiger population in the Russian Far East is considered the most stable
in the world.
``Much of our work would simply not be possible without the support
of Save The Tiger Fund,'' says Dale Miquelle, a Russia-based biologist
with WCS. ``The Fund has been a guiding force in tiger conservation at
a critical juncture in the worldwide conservation movement. In
providing support for tiger conservation, the Fund has become a key
player in the overall conservation of Asia's biodiversity.''
3. Forging partnerships to create breadth and depth.
Partnerships are a central tenet of the Foundation and the Save The
Tiger Fund. The Foundation has more than 12 years of solid,
quantifiable experience working with more than 1,200 local, state, and
Federal organizations and agencies on the national and international
level. The Foundation has involved universities, industry,
philanthropies and individuals in conservation partnerships. This
cooperative approach to conservation is a central feature of the STF.
The Save The Tiger Fund is committed to bringing conservation interests
to the table to collaborate and create an unprecedented impetus for
With a $5 million commitment from Exxon in 1995, the Foundation and
the Council surveyed the tiger problem and were astonished to find that
no assessment of tiger populations and habitats existed under a single
cover. Assuming sound tiger conservation must be based on good
information, how could the STF hope to fund priority tiger conservation
if no analysis of needs existed? At the request of the Save The Tiger
Fund, WWF and WCS agreed to jointly produce the first-ever, range-wide
assessment that mapped habitat, tiger occupancy, spatial relationships,
and threats. Published in 1997, A Framework for Identifying High
Priority Areas and Actions for Conservation of Tigers in the Wild was
grounded in two strengths: good science and collaboration.
``It was a religious experience, seeing those maps for the first
time,'' recalls Council Chairman John Seidensticker, ``here was the big
picture, spread out before us, leading us into the future.'' For the
first time, tiger researchers around the world had a reference, a
catechism, on which to analyze the opportunities and barriers for the
future of wild tigers.
The STF has played a central role in fostering the sharing of
information--beginning with a 1997 Zoological Society of London tiger
conference and continuing with the Year of the Tiger Conference held in
1998. Following on the heels of the London gathering, John
Seidensticker, Peter Jackson and Sarah Christie worked for a full year
to synthesize the proceedings into a coherent vision that translated
the many different languages used in tiger conservation into one--the
language of conservation biology. Riding the Tiger, published in 1999,
has become the central primer for tiger conservation. Taking advantage
of the momentum from 1997 and the timing of the Chinese calendar, the
Year of the Tiger Conference in 1998 marked the largest meeting of
tiger conservationists ever assembled. Representatives from 13 of the
14 tiger range countries participated, along with their colleagues from
the United States, Canada and Europe. For the first time, conservation
groups with an interest in saving tigers came to a consensus on a
vision for a realistic future for wild tigers. Securing a Future for
the World's Wild Tigers was published in 2000 as a summary of the Year
of the Tiger Conference's findings.
Conservation planning did not end with the hosting of two major
meetings but has returned home to tiger range. Countries previously
wrought with political, economic, and social strife have begun to
realize the significance of the tiger and its role in biologically
diverse ecosystems. Many of the developing nations in tiger range are
eager to get involved with this prized natural resource and have
solicited guidance and support from experienced organizations in this
field. The STF has consistently supported tiger action planning from
the national level in countries such as Myanmar and Burma to more
regionally specific plans for areas such as national parks.
The partnerships of the Save The Tiger Fund have expanded well
beyond the scientific community. A partnership with the Minnesota Zoo
offers one-stop tiger information geared to young and old alike through
the worldwide web. The 5Tigers.org web site attracted more than 4
million ``hits'' per month by the end of the year 2000, or an average
of 20,000 page views per day. Among other accolades, the web site was
named a five-star site by the Electric Schoolhouse Digital Library; and
the Education Index, a guide to the best educational Internet sites,
named it ``an outstanding educational resource.''
In 1996, National Geographic World magazine joined ExxonMobil and
the STF to sponsor a Save The Tiger poster contest that drew an
impressive 3,100 entries. ``Kids love cats,'' said World magazine's
Eleanor Shanahan. ``And they love to help endangered species.'' Another
joint project with National Geographic produced Habitats: Realm of the
Tiger, a comprehensive teaching kit for middle school teachers that has
reached at least 6,500 classrooms in the United States and the
thousands of students in them.
The Save The Tiger Fund has touched untold other tiger lovers
through the Smithsonian National Zoo ``Great Cats!'' exhibit, a
traveling American Zoo and Aquarium Association exhibit, exhibits at
Disney's Epcot Center and the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History,
and in special Zoo Day events in such cities as Houston, Baton Rouge,
Philadelphia, New York, Memphis, Philadelphia and Las Vegas.
The educational outreach and innovative partnerships also touch the
upper rungs of academia. In February 2001, the University of Missouri
joined the Save The Tiger Fund to create a model tiger-mascot program
aimed at reaching the 68 U.S. colleges and universities that carry the
tiger banner over their athletic programs. This is the first-ever
sustained effort by an university to put money and educational efforts
from a tiger-mascot program directly into on-the-ground tiger
conservation. ``We want there to be wild tigers as long as there are
Mizzou Tigers,'' says Chancellor Richard Wallace of the University of
Missouri. He adds that the STF ``brings great credibility to the table,
years of commitment and expertise, established and respected
relationships in tiger-range countries, the potential for greater
leverage of our own resources, and a passion for conservation that we
want to pass on to our students.''
In 1998, the famed illusionists, Siegfried & Roy joined the STF in
its conservation mission. Siegfried & Roy are using their signature
white tigers and popular Las Vegas act to serve as Ambassadors for
their wild relatives in Asia. Siegfried & Roy worked with ExxonMobil to
produce a commercial for the Save The Tiger Fund, which ExxonMobil
placed in strategic markets as part of its national advertising budget.
``We strongly believe that we must do everything we can to help save
tigers in the wild,'' said Roy. ``As powerful as tigers are, they need
our help. It would be a tragedy if this magnificent creature were to
vanish from the earth.''
The outreach of such high profile partnerships has been
significant. Following the announcement of the Save The Tiger Fund
partnership with Siegfried & Roy in May, 1999, the ensuing media
campaign reached an international audience of well over 70 million.
Over the past six years, reports on the work of the STF have been
featured by Parade Magazine, Life Magazine, the New York Times, the
Baltimore Sun, the Kansas City Star, CNN, the Today Show, Discovery
Channel, network radio and television, as well as a special PBS
production of ``The Visionaries.'' Overall, extensive national and
international media coverage of the Save The Tiger Fund has reached
populations throughout the U.S., Russia, Western Europe, Asia,
Australia and China.
In the business community, the Save The Tiger Fund has become
emblematic of corporate environmental stewardship, leadership and
responsibility. In a recent article on corporate philanthropic giving,
Worth magazine held up the Save The Tiger Fund as a notable example of
ExxonMobil's charitable efforts. The results-driven and accountable
work of the STF has built a solid reservoir of good will and created
the capacity to expand this public/private partnership to higher levels
of international visibility. Observes Ed Ahnert, President of
ExxonMobil Foundation: ``The Foundation provides a forum where
business, government and non-profit organizations can work together
harmoniously on conservation projects. By acknowledging that human
activity and preservation of the environment have to co-exist, it
operates in an area of shared values and on strong middle ground.''
4. Addressing the roots of tiger conservation problems.
An abiding belief in a tiger's power to protect and cure is as
ancient as Asia itself. Often revered as gods, tigers occupy a central
place in the myth and medicine of traditional Asian culture. Images of
tigers guard homes and temples from evil while tiger parts, when eaten,
applied, or worn, are believed to treat ailments, confer courage, and
even immunize against snakebite and bullets. But wild tigers and
stockpiles of tiger bones have been largely depleted in the past two
decades. If the demand continues, so will the tiger poaching. To reach
the goal of making live tigers worth more than the sum of their parts,
the Save The Tiger Fund has supported efforts to reduce demand for
tiger parts and to curtail trafficking.
Responding to this critical issue, the Save The Tiger Fund
supported groundbreaking work by WWF and TRAFFIC resulting in the
report, Far From a Cure: The Tiger Trade Revisited (Nowell 2000,) which
completed an earlier look at this black market by Council Member Peter
Jackson and WWF's Judy Mills. Their analysis is the backbone of ongoing
tiger trafficking work aimed at arresting the growth of tiger bone
consumers from Shanghai to New York and San Francisco to Toronto. ``The
Fund had the foresight to fund these efforts well before they were
embraced by the conservation community as a whole, and significant
progress continues as a result,'' says Ginette Hemley, vice president
for species conservation at WWF.
The following are examples of ongoing projects supported by the STF
directed at trade:
1. Support for WWF's and TRAFFIC's work with the Traditional
Chinese Medicine community to educate practitioners and endorse
medical substitutes for tiger derivatives. The approach--
concern tempered with respect for traditional Asian cultural
practices--has made the first serious inroads to staunching the
medicinal demand for tiger parts.
2. In China and other southeast Asian markets, Wi1dAid is using
support from the STF to target the region's general population
through popular media. They have enlisted the backing of such
Asian luminaries as Jackie Chan to produce commercials and
public service announcements that reach millions through
programming on the Discovery Channel and popular Asian
3. In the United States, recent investigations have uncovered a
sizable market for tiger pelts and other parts fueled by a
variety of market forces including unscrupulous trophy hunters
and the ongoing demand for traditional Asian medicine with
tiger derivatives. (FWS, personal communication.) Court-ordered
restitution funds will be directed by the STF Council in
support of trade-related projects.
Another issue at the root of tiger conservation is the simple need
to build recognition of tiger conservation issues in politically
sensitive regions. Conservationists face stiff challenges when working
with countries whose past and present political instability deeply
cloud the ability to focus on tiger conservation. Be it Russia,
Myannmar or Indonesia, the STF targets grants to support a wide range
of tiger research and conservation efforts in these countries, focusing
on building stability and capacity from within.
In Sumatra, for example, a tiger team fielded by Flora and Fauna
International is working day-to-day in a land riddled with the dangers
of disease, isolation, poachers and the difficulties of mediating the
often-deadly results of conflicts between villagers and neighboring
tigers. Even so, conservationists are hopeful about the tiger's future.
In the words of Margaret Kinnaird and Tim O'Brien, WCS biologists who
are working with STF support in Sumatra; ``without grants from the Save
The Tiger Fund, we would have been unable to accomplish our research on
Sumatran tigers in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Before we
started our work, the government did not believe the park was an
important conservation area for tigers and other wildlife. Now we
believe it may harbor some of the largest remaining populations of
tigers, rhino and elephant in Sumatra. STF provides significant and
very flexible grants that allow us to put young Indonesians into the
field, provide on-the-job training and in doing so, boost capacity and
The Save The Tiger Fund continues to expand into new territory,
making its first grant in Vietnam in 2000. The Bach Ma National Park
will monitor tiger and prey density and movement within the Park and
its buffer areas to get a better reading of species decline. Political
strife and unchecked poaching in Vietnam has made it difficult for many
conservation groups to work in the tiger's habitat. Until 2000, the
capacity and infrastructure to manage such a project just was not
there. A similar situation persists in Bangladesh, where tigers are
being lost to poaching at alarming rates and human-tiger conflicts are
quite frequent. The Sunderbans, which straddles the border between
India and Bangladesh, represents the last remaining mangrove forest
ecosystem in all of tiger range. This area is of international
importance for tiger conservation and the STF awarded its first grant
to a collaborative Sunderbans tiger conservation project in 2001.
5. Flexibility to accommodate risk and innovation.
The Save The Tiger Fund Council has made it clear that the STF
needs to include grants to the unknown and the untested in its
portfolio. Like the Foundation's Board of Directors, the Council has
stressed a willingness to consider small and non-traditional grants
because a project's conservation value is unrelated to its price, and
the line between innovation and speculation is often indiscernible at
For example, in 1998, the STF took a chance on a young Indian
graduate student who wanted to work in a largely unstudied tiger
reserve in central India. Harsha Reddy took the first photographs of
wild tigers in the area and undertook the challenging, and often
frustrating, task of working with local villagers who lost livestock to
tiger kills. Today, Reddy is a graduate student at Harvard Medical
School who hopes to go back to India as a doctor and continue the fight
to save wild tigers. ``Please know how much the STF has affected me.
Those two years in India were the most rich experiences of my life,''
writes Reddy. ``The contribution I could make at the time was sincere
but small. However, the motivation to continue the good work is still
very much alive within me. I strive to repay the trust the Save The
Tiger Fund put in me by staying active in the tiger cause.''
Asia holds a number of areas that appear to be suitable habitat for
tigers but the requisite research has not been conducted. A look at the
WWF/WCS Assessment map suggests that the northern tier of Myanmar
should be a key area for tigers. With the Save The Tiger Fund's
support, WCS was able to successfully make inroads into the political
quagmire of Myanmar in order to conduct a serious appraisal of the
status of tigers. Sadly the survey results suggest that there are few
or no tigers left in these rich habitats of former Burma. The
knowledge, however disappointing, is vital and similar scientific
assessments of the baseline biological data are invaluable to
conservationists as they set priorities for future conservation
Camera trapping techniques have greatly enhanced census work in
India and Southeast Asia. But this technique is not as useful in the
Russian Far East where the tiger's territory is too vast to be covered
by camera traps. The potential of training dogs to find scats and
identify individual tiger scents as a method for tiger census has been
proposed for STF funding. It is an unproven technique for tigers, but
the Foundation has previous experience with similar methods used
successfully for large carnivores in the U.S. Rather than turn down the
proposal, the STF is working with the Russian scent-dog researchers to
more fully develop the technique and have it peer-reviewed.
6. Building local leadership and capacity.
Tiger Wallahs is a term of respect for the tiger men who have
devoted their lives over the past century to the struggle to save the
tiger from extinction. ``They all share certain qualities--courage,
independence and territoriality among them -and all of them are as
remarkable in their way as the magnificent animals for whose survival
they have risked, and sometimes lost, everything,'' says noted author
Geoffrey Ward (Ward 1993.) The Save The Tiger Fund is fortunate to have
benefited from the advice and counsel of several Tiger Wallahs who sit
on its Council and serve as its advisors. From the start they have
emphasized the need to build local capacity and train the next
generation of young men and women to carry on the future of tiger
Along the Terai Arc, a fragmented strip of forest and tall
grasslands strung between the base of the Himalayas and the densely
populated Ganges Plain, the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation
in Nepal has successfully engaged local communities in conservation and
environmental stewardship. Council member Hemanta Mishra was the
visionary who saw that without the support of local people all would be
lost. He was founding secretary of the Mahendra Trust, which focuses on
making conservation a way to improve human life in the Chitwan Valley
and throughout Nepal.
In Cambodia, where years of border wars have created a hostile,
nearly impenetrable terrain, researchers have made their way into its
trans-boundary forests and found evidence of a robust tiger population
as well as a rich diversity of other flora and fauna. A small grant
from the STF allowed Cambodian university students like Sun Hean to get
involved in the early exploration, leading to their current roles as
conservation leaders who are making a difference for tigers in what is
fast becoming a key conservation area known for its unique
biodiversity. STF support in Cambodian conservation projects also has
fostered collaborative partnerships between researchers,
conservationists, local citizen and Cambodian officials in an area that
continues to suffer from a lack of political and social support for
In Malaysia, the STF is actively working to increase the capacity
of the wildlife department and improve the agency's ability to plan and
implement tiger conservation activities. STF Council member Mohammed
Khan has long been a recognized leader of Malaysian conservation. He
has helped the Save The Tiger Fund to understand the importance of
supporting leaders and building capacity in Malaysia. Similar
leadership is found in neighboring Indonesia where STF supports three
different groups on the ground. As one of Indonesia's foremost
conservation leaders, Council member Effendy Sumardja understands
first-hand the crucial importance of building capacity and investing in
For several years now, the Save The Tiger Fund has supported a
small, community-based project outside the famed Ranthambhore National
Park in India. Some 200,000 people live in the 74 villages that lie
within a three-mile radius of the park. The ``buffer zone'' that once
separated park and people is mostly gone. The Prakratik Society is
engaging local villagers in tiger conservation through a health clinic,
reforestation projects and other community outreach. Dr. Goverdhan
Singh Rathore, an earnest young Indian who leads the Prakratik Society,
has this to say of their work: ``We're like missionaries. We cure
people and convert them.''
Rathore's religion is tigers, trees, and the Park. He exhorts his
grateful patients to report tiger poachers, to plant trees, and to
practice family planning to ease population growth around the park. Dr.
Rathore is an evangelist for tree plantations and there is at least one
plantation in each of the 40 villages he works in. But it's been an
uphill battle over more than six years to achieve this. It's difficult
to persuade people to plant trees that take several years to yield fuel
or fodder when both are available today in the park. ``You have to
change a mind set,'' he says with more than a hint that he's prepared
to do just that.
These and other Tiger Wallahs are at the very root of the STF's
efforts; their selfless and voluntary contributions are at the heart of
the Save The Tiger Fund's success to date. The Foundation also
recognizes all its Council members for their invaluable contributions
to the shaping and operation of the STF.
7. Laying groundwork for future conservation.
The Save The Tiger Fund has identified geographic areas with the
potential to serve as prototypes for community-based conservation
programs with direct benefits for tiger conservation. ``The bottom line
is not about saving the world, but about how we can fit into this world
more fully with our fellow species intact,'' explains Council Chairman
John Seidensticker. ``The Save The Tiger Fund is committed to making
tigers star in efforts to implement actions that enable people to live
in balance with natural resources.''
One such model project is Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park,
which anchors the western end of a 1,000-mile-long green ribbon of
forest and tall grassland stretched along the base of the outer ranges
of the Himalayas. The Terai is not only excellent tiger habitat, but is
also home to leopards, sloth bears, Asian elephants, greater one-horned
rhinoceros and sambar, to name a few. But in the last half-century,
people have cut through the ribbon and frayed the Terai's edges to meet
needs for land, food, fuel, and fodder. Fortunately, the damage is not
complete or irrevocable--the beads remain and can be polished.
Investing in the Terai and tiger conservation is one of STF's highest
Once a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan was established as a national
park in 1973 to protect the tigers, rhinos, and other species that were
rapidly declining as people in search of new land replaced and degraded
the habitat. The study and monitoring of tigers and other species began
immediately, with the Nepal-Smithsonian Tiger Ecology Project and has
continued without interruption to this day. The park is renowned as a
tourist destination, attracting more visitors than any other park in
Asia. Early on, park leaders also recognized the importance of local
support and permitted villagers to collect thatch grass, essential for
roofing their homes, in the park. This helped to reduce resentment at
the loss of access to other natural resources.
Still, problems remained. As the local population grew, the
protected area became the only source of firewood for many local
people, and the temptation to graze cattle there was great. The
poaching crisis affected Chitwan, peaking in 1992, with poachers taking
both tigers and rhinos in large numbers. Except for thatch grass,
villagers were receiving little benefit from the park; for instance,
only a small fraction of the income from tourism found its way to the
local populace. And, like parks throughout Asia, Chitwan is too small.
If tigers were to survive in Nepal, people would have to make room for
them outside of protected areas.
Today, Chitwan National Park is emerging as a positive feature in
the local landscape, tiger and rhino numbers are increasing, and new
forest habitat is being added at the edge of the park. Local people are
becoming guardians of wildlife and wildlife habitat. For the first
time, economic incentives have given villagers a direct stake in the
park. New legislation dictates that a third to a half of all revenues
earned from park entrance fees be returned to villages in the
surrounding buffer zone to use for community development, such as
building schools and clinics. Equally important are events in the
buffer zone itself, where nearly 300,000 poor people live in 36
villages still largely dependent on forest for firewood and fodder.
After years of destroying the tiger's habitat, people are now creating
and managing it. A large, hand-painted sign set in the middle of a
newly planted community forest area called Chitrasen credits the
organizations involved in this ground-breaking habitat restoration
effort, widely considered the most successful community conservation
program in Asia. Prominent among these names is the Save The Tiger
As the community forestry project expands to additional parts of
the buffer zone, another challenge is to create habitat links between
the restored forest plots and other forest blocks in the buffer zone so
tigers can move through the larger landscape. The STF is also
supporting surveys in other parts of Nepal to find additional places
where tiger habitat can be restored with local participation. Finally,
conservationists from other parts of the tiger's range are viewing the
Chitwan experience firsthand to see how they can apply this model to
their own particular circumstances.
A second model conservation example lies amidst the moist tropical
forest of southwest India. The Western Ghats forest complex rivals
Chitwan for the title of world's best tiger habitat and is home to a
similar richness of wildlife. Covering more than 9,000 square miles
(24,000 square kilometers,) the conservation landscape includes several
protected areas, including Nagarahole National Park and Bhadra Wildlife
Sanctuary. Led by Dr. Ullas Karnath of the Wildlife Conservation
Society, the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project works in these areas
in another Indian subcontinent initiative supported in part by the Save
The Tiger Fund for the past three years. The Karnataka Tiger
Conservation Project promotes community interest in tiger conservation
through education programs for local students, teachers, and interested
adults. It further focuses on anti-poaching efforts, including
training, providing park protection staff with jeeps for patrolling,
and provisioning front-line forest guards with insurance and new
uniforms. These sorts of benefits, which Americans and Europeans take
for granted, help to improve morale of men whose jobs are dangerous and
As is the case almost everywhere in Asia, people ring these
protected areas, and many people actually live within them. About 7,500
landless people live inside the boundaries of the 644 square kilometer
Nagarahole National Park, for instance, where they lack schools, health
care, and other basics. To meet the needs of these people for a better
life, the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project is assisting in the
voluntary resettlement of 51 families to land outside of the park. If
this resettlement goes as expected, many more families will join the
exodus from Nagarahole setting an example for others on the benefits of
Dr. Karanth also leads efforts to rigorously monitor the numbers of
tigers and prey species in his study sites so progress can be measured.
Karanth believes that ``without applying good science it is impossible
to evaluate whether the efforts to reverse the tiger's decline are
succeeding or failing.'' A unique feature of the Karnataka project is
that it is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. ``What it takes is a
number of committed people. And that can't be bought with money,'' says
Kararnth. ``Tigers aren't going to be saved if local people aren't
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
``Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten,
but they may start a winning game.'' Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Save The Tiger Fund is making a critical difference in the
plight of the endangered wild tiger. Seven years ago, the headline was
``Doomed.'' Last year, the New York Times' headline read ``The Tiger.
Improbably, It Survives.'' Where the Save The Tiger Fund has invested
intensely, the tiger's population is considered stable today. As the
STF evolves and grows, .it is positioned to move conservation forward;
to secure a long-lasting future for tigers. This prophecy will require
an increased commitment to habitat restoration linked with community
involvement on landscape levels; sustained anti-poaching efforts; and
sustained underwriting of capacity building and public education. With
ExxonMobil's continued leadership, the STF will focus increasingly on
human infrastructure; entrepreneurial enterprises in tiger ranges;
leadership, education and training. The future calls for investments in
people and projects that link tiger conservation to the uplifting of
rural communities in terms of economy, health and education. The
results will be well worth the effort. For example, it is optimistic,
but certainly plausible, to set a goal of a doubled tiger population in
the Russian Far East and in Nepal over the next 10 years.
Once predicted as the date of reckoning for the wild tiger, the
year 2000 has come and gone and the tiger remains. So. too, do the
forest guards and biologists and communities who are working together
to make the wild tiger worth more alive than dead; and, equally
important, working together to make the lives of villagers from India
to Malaysia to Sumatra to the Russian Far East richer and fuller for
the presence of tigers. In the words of STF Council member Hemanta
Mishra: ``We must invest in conservation solutions that bring smiles
and laughter, not frowns and tears.'' Our efforts to secure the tiger's
future must be as adaptable as the animal itself. It is tempting to say
that the battle to save tigers must be fought on many fronts. But
likening tiger conservation to a battle is to suggest that we can press
for a victory and send the troops home. Securing a future for wild
tigers, however, requires pressing to win the short-term skirmishes
while committing to constant care and vigilance for the long term. If
tigers survive, it will be because the troops--the people who live with
tigers and care enough to save them--are at home.
Christie, S. 2000. The ZSL/WWF Global Tiger Projects Data base- and
interim report to the WWF Global Tiger Conservation Strategy meeting in
Anyer, West Java, September 2000. London: Zoological Society of London.
Dinerstein, E. et al. 1997. A Framework for Identifying High
Priority Areas and Actions for the Conservation of Tigers in the Wild.
Washington, DC, World Wildlife Fund-US with the Wildlife Conservation
Society. 72 pp +.
Nowell, K. 2000. Far from a Cure: the Tiger Trade Revisited.
Cambridge, UK: Traffic International. 100 pp.
Seidensticker, J, S. Christie, and P. Jackson, eds. 1999. Riding
the Tiger, tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes. London:
Cambridge University Press. 383 pp.
Tilson, R. 1996. A Tiger White Paper: 1995. Report prepared for
Save The Tiger Fund, Washington, DC: Save The Tiger Fund, National Fish
and Wildlife Foundation. 15 pp.
Tilson, R. P. Nyhus, P. Jackson, H. Quigley, M. Hornocker, J.
Ginsberg, D. Phemister, N. Sherman, and J. Seidensticker, eds. 2000.
Securing a Future for the World's Wild Tigers, Executive Summary Year
of the Tiger Conference. Washington, DC: Save The Tiger Fund, National
Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 24 pp.
Ward, Geoffrey C. with Diane Raines Ward. 1993. Tiger-Wallahs:
encounters with the men who tried to save the greatest of the great
cats. Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., New York. p. x.
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Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Berry.
STATEMENT OF KAREN STEUER, DIRECTOR, COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION
AND TRADE PROGRAM, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
Ms. Steuer. Thank you, Congressman. I am pleased to be here
with the Committee again, but I have to tell you sitting on
this side of the dais takes a little bit of getting used to.
Mr. Gilchrest. Is it more interesting on that side of the
Ms. Steuer. I am pleased to be here today and to offer
testimony on the reauthorization of these statutes which IFAW
believes have contributed significantly to the conservation of
all the species involved.
But at the risk of being a wet blanket, in answer to the
Subcommittee's specific question about the future viability of
these species, we are of the view that all of our efforts,
including the excellent work being done through the
international species conservation funds, may not be enough to
save some elephant populations from crossing over the brink
into extinction if we can't find better, more effective and
cooperative ways of supporting the basic communications and
infrastructure needs of nations whose elephant populations are
continuing to fall victim to poaching, habitat destruction, and
conflicts with humans.
We think that if the Acts could be improved in any way, in
our view it would be to set top funding priorities for these
most basic of needs, particularly in Western and Central Africa
and Southeast Asia.
Next year, the 152 member nations of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species are going to meet at
the 12th Conference of the Parties in Santiago, Chile. Among
the items on the agenda--and there will be hundreds of items on
the agenda--will be whether to allow further international
trade in elephant ivory. Those supporting more trade will focus
on how many elephants there are in South Africa, Namibia, and
Botswana, where elephants live primarily or in some of those
countries entirely on protected and fenced-in lands, and
admittedly where populations are doing well, as Congressman
Pombo alluded to earlier, where the populations are healthy and
But this debate and this issue also needs to address the
desperate need for additional anti-poaching and enforcement
support in Central and Western Africa, where illusive forest
elephants living largely outside of protected areas in some of
Africa's poorest nations may be the most threatened victims of
illegal ivory trade.
In countries like the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Chad where
IFAW has support projects, funds for wildlife conservation and
enforcement are so limited that governments are only guessing
at the number of elephants within their borders, let alone how
many might fall victim to the illegal ivory trade every year.
Assisting these countries to communicate and cooperate on
conservation efforts, we believe, is critical to ensuring the
future of elephants in Africa. And we believe that the most
important take-home message of today's hearing should be that
many of these countries don't have even the most basic computer
equipment and radio transmitters for their field offices. Yet,
we are expecting them to report poaching incidents to the CITES
secretariat on a daily or timely basis.
They don't have functional four-wheel-drive vehicles most
of the time, but we are expecting them to find the carcasses of
illegally killed elephants on a timely basis. They don't have
sophisticated x-ray equipment in their airports and we are
expecting them to find illegal ivory as it leaves the country.
Now, add to these conditions the sheer volume of wildlife
trade in a world where 350 million wild plants and animals are
traded every year, in a market worth $20 billion, 25 percent of
which is illegal trade. It is the second largest illegal trade
market in the world, second only to the illegal drug trade in
terms of value. And without a doubt, it is continuing to have a
devastating impact on the species we are discussing today.
For these reasons, we fully support your efforts to ensure
that each one of these programs receives at least $1 million in
appropriated funds in the coming fiscal year, and we would
suggest that when considering top priorities for funding
support, the Fish and Wildlife Service should consider more
projects that provide park rangers, CITES authorities, and
customs officials with basic support. In that regard, we would
fully support the concept of the language that the Fish and
Wildlife Service has put forward today.
Regarding the Rhino-Tiger Act, we would strongly urge that
more funding be provided for desperately needed law enforcement
regarding traditional medicine products. In our view, the
steadily increasing demand for TM products containing powdered
rhino horn and tiger bone represents the current largest threat
to these particular species, and it has disastrous results for
more than 80 species in the world that are currently involved
in the use of TM.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 80
percent of the world's population currently relies on some form
of traditional medicine for its health care. Yet, there is no
regulatory mechanism that requires TM products in international
trade to be labeled according to species.
In the case of tigers, products may come into this country
labeled ``Felis'' without identifying whether that means tiger
bone, leopard bone, or the bones of a house cat. Conversely,
products labeled ``tiger bone'' may contain no cat products at
We would strongly urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to use
some of the funds in the conservation fund to support our
efforts to have the CITES parties require all traditional
medicine in international trade to be labeled with contents by
species. Not only would this benefit rhinos and tigers, but
dozens of other species as well, and we think it would be the
first major step forward in controlling and enforcing the
mostly illegal use of CITES-listed species in traditional
I want to thank you for all your efforts on behalf of all
these funds, and I look forward to working further with you and
to answering any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Steuer follows:]
STATEMENT OF KAREN STEUER, DIRECTOR, COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION AND TRADE
PROGRAM, INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE, ON H.R. 643, H.R. 645,
AND H.R. 700
My name is Karen Steuer and I am the Director of the Commercial
Exploitation and Trade Program for the International Fund for Animal
Welfare (IFAW). IFAW is a non-profit organization with over two million
supporters around the world. Our global headquarters is in
Massachusetts, and we have offices in Australia, China, Japan, Russia,
Germany, France, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium,
Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, and in Washington.
IFAW's mission is to work to improve the welfare of wild and
domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial
exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting
animals in distress. IFAW seeks to motivate the public to prevent
cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation
policies that advance the well being of both animals and people.
I am pleased to be here today and to offer testimony on the
reauthorization of the Asian Elephant Conservation Act; the African
Elephant Conservation Act; and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Act. The Subcommittee's letter specifically requested our views on the
impact of the conservation funds; the future viability of the species
involved; whether the law has encouraged additional international
conservation efforts; and whether the laws should be amended. Those are
fair questions, without easy answers.
IFAW is a strong supporter of both the African and Asian Elephant
Conservation Acts. I believe we are in a fair position to evaluate
their effectiveness in that, rather than receive government funding for
our own elephant conservation programs, we have traditionally assisted
governments in their conservation needs. None of our funding has come
from government sources. In addition, we have offices or partner
organizations in the regions most affected by these statutes, all of
which are staffed entirely by nationals of the region, including former
park rangers and law enforcement specialists Do we believe these two
statutes contribute significantly to elephant conservation and
encourage additional conservation efforts? Absolutely. IFAW has jointly
funded several of the projects that were also assisted by the funds
established under these laws. For example, the African Elephant
Conservation Fund and IFAW are the two top sources of funding for the
Cornell University Bioacoustics Research Program of acoustic monitoring
of forest elephants in the Central African Republic.
In addition, we have supported or conducted programs that further
the work or intent of these statutes. While the African Elephant
Conservation Fund has supported post-war rehabilitation of the
infrastructure of the Reserve de Faune d'Okapi in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, IFAW has supported ranger relief efforts for the
war-torn Kahuzi-Biega Park, a World Heritage Site in the Congo which
contains forest elephants, lowland gorillas, and one of the few
remaining populations of bonobos on the planet.
In answer to the Subcommittee's question about the future viability
of these species, IFAW is of the view that all of our efforts,
including the excellent work done through the international species
conservation funds, may not be enough to save many wild elephant
populations from crossing over the brink into extinction if we cannot
find more effective ways of supporting the basic communications and
infrastructure needs of nations whose elephant populations continue to
fall victim to poaching, habitat destruction, and conflicts with
humans. If the acts could be improved in any way, in our view it would
be to set top funding priorities for these most basic of needs,
particularly in Western and Central Africa and Southeast Asia Next
year, in November of 2002, the 152 member nations of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will meet at the 12th
Conference of the Parties in Santiago, Chile. Among the hundreds of
items on the agenda will be a decision on whether to allow further
opening of the international trade in elephant ivory. Those supporting
more trade will focus the debate on how many elephants there are in
South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, where elephants live primarily on
protected fenced lands, and populations appear to be healthy and
But the debate should also focus on how many elephants have managed
to survive the ravages of civil war in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, where both rebel forces and government troops kill them for
their meat and ivory. It should focus on the rangers throughout Africa
and Asia who gave their lives in the ivory wars of the 1980's and the
rangers who continue to lose their lives in gun battles with poachers
The debate should address the desperate need for additional
research, anti-poaching and enforcement support in Central and Western
Africa, where elusive forest elephants, living largely outside of
protected areas in some of Africa's poorest nations, may be the most
threatened victims of the illegal ivory trade. In countries like the
Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Chad, funds for wildlife conservation and
enforcement are so limited that governments are unable to do more than
guess at the number of elephants that live within their borders, let
alone be able to accurately estimate how many of those animals may fall
victim to illegal ivory trade each year.
Assisting these countries to communicate and to cooperate on
conservation efforts is critical to ensuring the future of elephants in
Africa. Through the Game Rangers Association of Africa, IFAW recently
sponsored 34 delegates from 17 African nations to attend the
International Ranger Federation Third World Congress held in South
Africa. One of the most positive outcomes of the conference was an
agreement among African rangers, the Game Rangers Association, and the
International Ranger Federation to establish local ranger associations.
IFAW will be assisting those associations in purchasing computers so
they can communicate with each other and with the outside world.
Mr. Chairman, we believe the important take-home message should be
that many of these countries do not have even the most basic computer
equipment and radio transmitters for their field offices and ranger
stations, yet we expect them to report poaching incidents to the CITES
Secretariat on a timely basis. They do not have functional four-wheel
drive vehicles much of the time, yet we expect them to find the
carcasses of illegally killed elephants. They do not have sophisticated
X-ray equipment in their airports, but we expect them to find ivory
leaving the country illegally. These are the conditions under which
these countries must operate.
Now add to these conditions the sheer volume of wildlife trade in a
world where 350 million wild animals and plants are bought and sold
each year. That represents a market worth more than $20 billion. It has
been estimated that approximately 25 percent of this trade is illegal:
a black market second only to the illegal drug trade in terms of dollar
value. Without a doubt, this trade continues to have a devastating
impact on the species we are discussing today.
For these reasons, IFAW urges the Members of the Resources
Committee to work with the Appropriations Committee to ensure that each
of these programs receives $1 million in appropriated funds in the
coming fiscal year. And I would suggest that when considering projects
for funding support, the Fish and Wildlife Service should give top
priority not to proposals that promote sustainable use, as the Act
currently states, but to proposals that provide the greatest amount of
immediate aid to those countries whose elephants are the most
threatened, and to consider more projects that provide park rangers,
CITES authorities, and customs officials with support. In the end, the
survival of many elephant populations in Asia and Africa may depend
entirely on successful law enforcement.
In that regard, IFAW would like to continue to work with the Fish
and Wildlife Service to support worthy projects which the African and
Asian Elephant Funds are unable to support; to partner with the Service
to provide the additional funding or logistical support necessary to
get projects off the ground; and to work with the Fish and Wildlife
Service, the CITES Secretariat, and other governments to support law
enforcement, ranger training, and customs training programs. We would
also urge more support from the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund for
programs in China, where IFAW is working with the Beijing Normal
University and local communities surrounding the Cai Yang He Nature
Reserve to resolve conflicts between human populations and the last
remaining 200 wild elephants in China.
Regarding the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, we would
strongly urge that funding be provided not only for onsite conservation
programs, but for desperately needed law enforcement and consumer
education efforts regarding traditional medicine products. In our view,
the steadily increasing demand for traditional medicines (TM)
containing powdered rhino horn and tiger bone represents the No. 1
threat to the survival of these species. In addition, the shortage of
tiger bone for TM has led to a growing demand for powdered bone from
other wild cats, representing a new threat to other endangered species
such as the leopard.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 80 percent of
the world's population relies on some form of traditional medicine for
their primary method of health care. This steadily growing global
market is largely unregulated and unmonitored, with sometimes
disastrous results for the more than 80 species worldwide that are
currently used in TM. Some conservationists are now calling traditional
medicine a leading cause of endangerment, affecting species ranging
from snakes and tortoises to deer, as well as tigers and rhinos.
There is currently no regulatory mechanism that requires TM
products in international trade to be labeled according to species. In
the case of tigers, products may be labeled as containing Felis without
identifying whether that means tiger bone, leopard bone, or the bones
of a common domestic cat. Conversely, products may be labeled as Tiger
bone and contain no cat products whatsoever.
This is an issue of concern not only for rhinos and tigers but for
many other species as well. For example, dried processed TM products
may be labeled as containing musk without having to identify whether
the musk is the natural product of the musk deer, or synthetic. Musk
deer are currently listed on either Appendix I of CITES, which does not
permit international trade, or on Appendix II, which allows limited
trade. In recent years, the US and other nations have attempted to
transfer those musk deer populations currently on Appendix II to
Appendix I due to growing concerns about the impact of the musk trade
on deer populations in Russia, Mongolia, and China. To date, those
efforts have failed in part because we simply cannot account for the
balance of natural versus synthetic musk in global trade. Accurate
labeling would help us to achieve that.
While the 1998 revisions to the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act
addressed the problem of enforcement related to products labeled as
tiger bone, regardless of their actual contents, it did not address the
problem of products labeled in a more general manner, or not labeled
with species identification in any way. At the most recent Conference
of the CITES Parties in Nairobi last April, a document was presented by
the CITES Secretariat expressing ongoing concerns, which IFAW shares,
regarding the impact of TM on CITES-listed species. We would therefore
strongly urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to support our efforts to
have the CITES Parties require all traditional medicines in
international trade to be labeled with contents by species, using
standard scientific names. Not only would this benefit rhinos and
tigers, but dozens of other species. We believe it would be the first
major step forward in controlling and enforcing the use of CITES-listed
species in traditional medicine.
To further these efforts, IFAW's China office is working with TM
practitioners in China to find alternatives to the use of threatened
wildlife species, and our U.K. office recently partnered with the
British government to support a similar project in the U.K., where TM
use has increased by 70 percent over the last five years. In the United
States, TM use has grown by 280 percent in the past decade, making the
U.S. the second largest user of traditional medicine products in the
world. Here we have been working with TM suppliers in California to
create vendor associations or use existing associations that would
establish certification standards for their products. Those standards
would include voluntarily submitting their products to the California
Department of Health, working cooperatively with the inter-agency
Herbal Task Force, to ensure their products contain no protected
As you know, the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act contains a
requirement that efforts be made to educate the public regarding
alternatives for traditional medicine products. IFAW is currently in
discussions with the Fish and Wildlife Service to jointly produce an
educational point-of-sale brochure for consumers discouraging the use
of wildlife products in traditional medicine. IFAW supports these
efforts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to work in cooperation with
the TM communities, and would encourage the continuation of this
I wish I could report optimistically on the future viability of
rhino and tiger populations around the world. But poaching and illegal
trade continue to take a huge toll on these species. All five species
of rhinos are listed on Appendix I of CITES, and the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature lists four of the five as
critically endangered. The black rhino (Diceros bicornis), estimated to
number 14,785 animals in 1980, is now down to about 2,800 animals in
widely scattered populations. The southern white rhino (Ceratotherium
simum) currently numbers over 8,000, following strong conservation
efforts by South Africa. The great Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis)
is holding at 2,000 animals. The two southeast Asian species are in far
worse shape, with the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
estimated at only 270 animals in 1995, and the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros
sondaicus) now extinct in most of its former range, and estimated at 75
animals in 1995. We expect the Javan rhino to become extinct in the
wild by the time my 7-year-old daughter is old enough to spell
All five remaining subspecies of tigers are also listed on CITES
Appendix I. I want to emphasize the word remaining, since three
subspecies the Caspian tiger, the Javan tiger, and the Bali tiger have
gone extinct in the last 60 years, and the South China tiger now
numbers fewer than two dozen animals and is likely to become extinct
within the next few years. The world's approximately 5,000 remaining
tigers are subject to poaching and illegal trade throughout their range
As with the two elephant funds, we would like to see increases in
support for basic infrastructure and law enforcement needs. Russian
customs officials and park rangers have told us that the broad, largely
unpatrolled expanse of the border between China and Russia has resulted
in an ongoing illegal trade of Siberian tiger pelts and bone from
Russia's Far East into China. We believe that Russia's CITES officials
and park rangers are certainly willing to conduct better law
enforcement operations along this border, but lack the necessary
financial support, basic equipment, or even species identification
manuals. Much of the support reaching those border guards is currently
coming from non-governmental organizations, including IFAW. Assistance
from the Fish and Wildlife Service, either through the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Fund, or through other training programs, would be
extremely helpful in curbing this smuggling.
In closing, I would like to thank those members of the Committee,
particularly Chairman Gilchrest and Congressman Saxton, who have been
so supportive of these statutes over the decade since the African
Elephant Conservation Fund was first enacted. Your dedication to these
species and to the many others protected under the U.S. Endangered
Species Act and its international programs has been a critical factor
in providing assistance to important conservation efforts around the
world. I would be happy to answer any questions you or the other
Committee members may have.
[Ms. Steuer's responses to written questions submitted for
the record follow:]
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Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Ms. Steuer.
STATEMENT OF JOHN ROBINSON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY
Dr. Robinson. Thank you, Chairman Gilchrest and members of
the Subcommittee, for the opportunity to comment on the
reauthorization of these Acts.
I am John Robinson, Senior Vice President and Director of
International Conservation for the Wildlife Conservation
Society, which was founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological
Society. WCS conserves wildlife and wild lands throughout the
world, as well as managing animal collections at the Bronx Zoo
and other living institutions in the New York area. Given a
long history of field conservation, with nearly 300 field
projects in 50 countries throughout the Americas, Asia, and
Africa, we have a keen interest in all three pieces of
WCS would like to thank the Subcommittee, Chairman
Gilchrest and Congressman Saxton, for recognizing the need and
urgency to provide additional support for wildlife protection
in lands beyond our borders. Animals like rhinos, elephants and
tigers are culturally important to us Americans and to people
around the world, and their conservation is a global priority.
Unfortunately, there is a need for active conservation of
these species. All five species of rhino are under siege, with
estimated populations of 100 for the Javan rhino and somewhere
around 10,000 for the white rhino, but even there with no
guarantee of continued survival.
With the African elephant, the concern is not about
numbers, but for the potential for decline. The dramatic
decline in numbers in the 1970's and 1980's was halted by
vigorous conservation action, including the ivory trade ban,
but recent increases in hunting for ivory and bush meat
threaten the stability of these populations.
With the Asian elephant, the situation is even more severe,
with less than 50,000 wild Asian elephants remaining, fully
half of which occur in India. In Vietnam, China, and much of
Laos and Cambodia, populations have declined to the point of
Tiger numbers are at perilously low levels, with a global
population certainly less than 10,000. India remains a
stronghold for tigers, and strong U.S. Government support in
the past has been critical in shoring up those populations.
Tigers have vanished from most of Indochina and are critically
threatened throughout Southeast Asia.
This summary is not to say that these species are
inevitably declining toward extinction. White and Indian rhino
are recovering. Many populations of tiger, elephants and
rhinoceros have stabilized. In the Russian Far East, with
consistent U.S. Government support, tiger populations have
stabilized at something under 100 individuals, and there are
indications of further recovery. These changes have been
brought about through conservation action, and programs
supported by the Acts under discussion have been critical.
The existing grant programs for tigers, rhinos and
elephants have been enormously successful. Because these
programs are non-bureaucratically and efficiently run through
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and provide timely, direct
financial support and leverage to high-priority field efforts,
we therefore encourage the use of similar operational
mechanisms for the administration of future appropriations,
though I would note parenthetically that the existing caps on
administration are probably too low.
The impacts of these programs on the conservation of these
species has been real and significant, especially in the light
of catastrophic civil war and social unrest that many of the
range states have had to grapple with over the last 10 years.
The leadership provided by the U.S. Government has
stimulated action from the international community to conserve
these species. For instance, the initiative to monitor the
illegal killing of elephants initially supported by the United
States has now received significant support from the European
Union. National governments of the range states of these
species are increasingly investing their own scarce resources
in conservation efforts, although I would underline the
comments of my colleague to the right.
The support provided by the U.S. Government has underscored
the importance of these endeavors, and allowed conservation
organizations like WCS to secure additional private and
philanthropic support for the conservation of these species.
The Wildlife Conservation Society is strongly supportive of
conservation strategies that focus on individual species, and
this Subcommittee has heard previous testimony from the Society
at hearings last year on the Keystone Species Conservation Act
and the Great Ape Conservation Act. We know that species-based
approaches are appropriate on scientific grounds, rational and
administrative grounds, and effective on the ground. The public
can relate to charismatic species more easily than they can to
the conservation of biological communities and ecosystems.
We would recommend the Subcommittee to move swiftly on
these bills. We strongly recommend the reauthorization of these
three Acts. Funding these bills has been a sound investment of
tax dollars. We, together with a number of other conservation
NGO's, strongly recommend increasing funding of these bills.
Annual appropriations of at least $1.5 million for each bill in
Fiscal Year 2002 must surely be considered a minimum. We
strongly recommend that these funds remain flexible in the
range of conservation activities for which they can be used.
The very survival of species like rhinos, elephants and
tigers rests in the hands of our generation. Given the enormity
of this responsibility and the urgency of the need for
increased conservation, we therefore urge the Subcommittee and
the Congress as a whole to act quickly and positively on the
reauthorization of these Acts.
I thank you again for the opportunity to comment and I
would be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Robinson follows:]
STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN G. ROBINSON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, ON H.R. 643,
H.R. 645, AND H.R. 700
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee: Thank you very much for
the opportunity to comment on the African Elephant Conservation
Reauthorization Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Reauthorization Act, and the Asian Elephant Conservation Act . I am
here today to represent the views of the Wildlife Conservation Society,
founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, a 105-year old US-
based membership organization. The Wildlife Conservation Society
conserves wildlife and wild lands throughout the world, as well as
managing animal collections at the Bronx Zoo and other living
institutions in the New York area. Given a long history of field
conservation and the largest professional field staff of any
international conservation organization--with nearly 300 field projects
throughout the Americas, Asia, and Africa we have a keen interest in
all three pieces of legislation.
The Wildlife Conservation Society would like to thank the
Subcommittee, Chairman Gilchrest and Congressman Saxton for recognizing
the need and urgency, expressed in all three bills, to provide
additional support for wildlife protection in lands beyond our own
borders. These bills reflect the importance that American citizens
place on conserving the wild, wonderful, inspiring creatures of this
earth. Animals like rhinoceros, elephants, and tigers are culturally
important to us Americans and to people around the world, and their
conservation is a global responsibility. Their loss would be a
diminution of our biological richness, our natural heritage, and our
Unfortunately, there is a need for active conservation of
rhinoceros, elephants and tigers. All five species of rhinoceros are
under siege. The Javan and Sumatran species of rhino are critically
endangered and their numbers continue to dwindle, a situation not
helped by the political instability in Southeast Asia. In Africa,
numbers of the formerly numerous black rhino have declined from perhaps
65,000 in 1970 to about 2,500 today, and the species has been
extirpated over large areas of Africa. This decline continues: We have
recently learned that the famous and well-known population of black
rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania is now almost gone. The
news is better for the white rhino and the Indian rhino, whose numbers
have increased substantially during this century, but even for these
species the total world populations are only in the low thousands, and
their continued survival is not guaranteed.
Population numbers of elephants are much greater. Here the concern
is with the decline in numbers. For the African elephant, the dramatic
decline in numbers from about 1.2 million to 600,000 in the 1980's was
halted by vigorous conservation action, including the ivory trade ban.
Numbers over the last few decades have been more stable, but recently
an increase in hunting for ivory trade and for bushmeat is affecting
populations in many parts of Africa. For the Asian elephant the
situation is far more severe. There are less than 50,000 wild Asian
elephants remaining, fully half of which are found in India. In
Vietnam, China, and much of Laos and Cambodia, populations have
declined to the point of near extinction. In Southeast Asia, habitat
loss and hunting continue to threaten fragmented populations.
Tiger numbers are at perilously low levels, with a global
population certainly less than 10,000. India remains a stronghold for
tigers, and strong U.S. Government support in the past has been
critical in shoring up populations. Future support should not be linked
to geopolitical issues if at all possible. Tigers have vanished from
most of Indochina and are critically threatened in Southeast Asia. The
situation however is not universally bleak. In the Russian Far East,
with consistent U.S. Government support, tiger populations have
stabilized at something under 500 individuals, and there are
indications of further recovery. A recent workshop, sponsored by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, brought together government officials
from both China and Russia in an effort to expand cross boundary
protected areas and address poaching threats.
Nevertheless, despite the threats to these species, conservation
action is changing, and can change the situation. We congratulate you
on bringing these bills up for reauthorization. As you have clearly
recognized, the existing grant programs for tigers, rhinoceroses, and
Asian and African elephants have been enormously successful. Because
these programs are non-bureaucratically and efficiently run through the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and provide timely direct financial
support and leverage to high priority field efforts, we therefore
encourage the use of similar operational mechanisms for administration
of future appropriations.
The impacts on these programs and the conservation of these species
has been real and significant. The accomplishments are all the more
impressive when one considers that many of the range states have had to
grapple with catastrophic civil war and social unrest during the last
10 years. The Wildlife Conservation Society is proud to have been a
partner in many of the projects supported through these programs.
The leadership provided by the U.S. Government has stimulated
actions from the international community to conserve these species. For
instance, the initiative to monitor the illegal killing of elephants,
initially supported by the United States, has now received significant
support from the European Union. National governments of the range
states of these species are increasingly investing their own scarce
resources in conservation efforts. And the support provided by the U.S.
Government has underscored the importance of these endeavors, and
allowed organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society to secure
additional private and philanthropic support for the conservation of
rhinoceros, elephants and tigers.
The Wildlife Conservation Society is strongly supportive of
conservation strategies that focus on individual species, and this
subcommittee has heard previous testimony from Richard Lattis and Dr.
Amy Vedder at hearings last year on the Keystone Species Conservation
Act and the Great Ape Conservation Act. We recognize that the
conservation of individual species is a concern that the public can
relate to more easily than they can to the conservation of biological
communities or ecosystems. And we also know that species-based
approaches are appropriate on scientific grounds, rational on
administrative grounds, and effective on the ground.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, for instance, focuses
considerable conservation effort on a set of species known as Landscape
Species . These are species, like rhinoceros, elephant and tiger, that
use large, ecologically diverse areas and often have significant
impacts on the structure and function of natural ecosystems. Their
requirements in space and time make landscape species particularly
susceptible to human alteration and use of their habitats, and these
species are among the most rapidly vanishing elements of biodiversity
worldwide. Yet a conservation strategy that focuses on the conservation
of this set of species is responsible, efficient, and cost-effective.
LConservation of landscape species, because of their large
area requirements, secure the conservation needs of many other species,
species assemblages, and larger-scale ecological processes;
LThe use of a small set of selected species to achieve a
broader set of conservation goals is highly efficient;
LThe important functional role of landscape species
provides a way to link species to landscapes and vice versa in
LLandscape species provide a cost-effective way to achieve
a significant set of conservation goals in the face of the challenge of
addressing multiply threatened species and communities, and the
difficulty in adequately understanding highly complex ecosystems and
landscapes in a timely fashion.
We would therefore urge the Subcommittee to move swiftly on these
We strongly recommend that reauthorization of the African Elephant
Conservation Reauthorization Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Act, and the Asian Elephant Conservation Act. Funding these bills has
been a sound investment of tax dollars.
We, together with a number of other conservation NGO's, strongly
recommend increased funding of these bills. Annual appropriations of at
least $1.5 million for each in Fiscal Year 2002 must surely be
considered a minimum.
We strongly recommend that these funds remain flexible in the range
of conservation activities for which they can be used, including but
not limited to, research, monitoring, planning, training, conservation
education and on-the-ground implementation.
The very survival of species like rhinoceros, elephant and tiger
rests in the hands of our generation. How much poorer would our world
be without these animals, and what accountability will we be held to by
our children, and by our children's children if they were to vanish?
Given the enormity of this responsibility, and the urgency of the need
for increased conservation, we therefore urge the Subcommittee and the
Congress as a whole to act quickly and positively on the
reauthorization of these acts.
I thank you again for the opportunity to comment and to work with
you on these bills. I would be happy to answer any questions.
[Mr. Robinson's responses to written questions submitted
for the record follow:]
RESPONSES FROM DR. JOHN ROBINSON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION OF THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, TO
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM MR. FALEOMAVAEGA, MARCH 29, 2001.
Question 1: Would you please explain how this concept is
distinguished from other management schemes based upon geographic
units, such as by watersheds or by drainage basins?
The landscape species approach uses the biology of certain species,
landscape species, to map the area over which populations must be
managed. Just as watersheds may be the most relevant units for
management of pollution or water development, wildlife conservation
requires ecologically relevant units in which to manage populations.
This is necessary because wildlife do not recognize political
boundaries and often move between watersheds, land parcels, or other
units. Their conservation requires management across these boundaries.
This is particularly true for landscape species, which range widely and
use a variety of habitat types. By characterizing their movements and
identifying the requirements of healthy populations, we identify the
resources, and thus the area, to be managed for their effective
conservation. Not surprisingly, the boundaries and management units
identified by this process often differ from those prescribed by other
management schemes focusing on jurisdictional boundaries, land use
units, drainages or watersheds.
Question 2: How does the conservation of landscape species enable
or promote the conservation of biodiversity more broadly?
Abundant field data demonstrate that wide-ranging species are more
likely to be extirpated from protected areas (national parks, reserves,
wildlife sanctuaries, etc.). Meeting the spatial requirements of wide-
ranging species provides sufficient space for other, less widely
ranging species, a process known as an umbrella function. The landscape
species approach takes this strategy one step further. Most notably,
landscape species require large areas and a diversity of habitat types.
This means that conservation planning must incorporate multiple habitat
types, and that these must be effectively connected. Therefore,
conserving landscape species provides an even wider umbrella. This will
not only lead to lasting protection for other species; it will ensure
that the ecological processes maintaining healthy ecosystems are
Question 3: Under a landscape species scenario, what is the
involvement with indigenous human populations? Does the implementation
of such a scenario impose greater operations and administrative burdens
on range states?
The landscape species approach provides a framework for integrating
human use and wildlife conservation. By clearly identifying and mapping
the requirements of landscape species, the approach provides
unambiguous criteria for recognizing conflicts as well as conservation-
compatible activities. This helps land managers to focus conservation
action on key conflicts, rather than categorically opposing all human
activities. Consequently, indigenous populations are able to continue
sustainable use of wild areas. Our expectation is that this more
focused approach will actually reduce the management burden on range
states and minimize conflicts with indigenous people.
Question 4: Some critics allege that landscape species conservation
only diverts more and more funding to charismatic megafauna, and only
serves to siphon scarce conservation dollars away from other deserving
wildlife, especially non-game threatened and endangered species. Is
this a fare criticism or do conservation efforts for these landscape
species benefit the ecosystem at large?
Landscape species are not simply charismatic megafauna. They are
selected based on ecological criteria specifically designed to maximize
the umbrella function mentioned above (question 2). This is an
effective strategy for biodiversity conservation as it conserves
healthy populations and functioning ecosystems.
In some cases large charismatic species may be selected as
landscape species, but in many cases they are not. In the sites where
this approach has been developed, landscape species range from a 20
gram hummingbird to forest elephants. In fact, most are non-game
species and many are threatened or endangered. Because the approach is
focused on key threats, it allocates conservation resources more
efficiently than crisis-driven conservation strategies. Ultimately,
this will free-up scarce conservation resources for other sites or
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Dr. Robinson.
Mr. Kirtland, welcome.
STATEMENT OF JOHN KIRTLAND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR ANIMAL
STEWARDSHIP, FELD ENTERTAINMENT, INC., AND FOUNDER, RINGLING
BROTHERS CENTER FOR ELEPHANT CONSERVATION
Mr. Kirtland. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the
Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you
today in support of H.R. 700, the Asian Elephant Conservation
My name is John Kirtland and I am the Executive Director of
Animal Stewardship for Feld Entertainment, Incorporated, which
is the producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, and
the founder of Ringling Brothers' Center for Elephant
Conservation, both of which I will collectively refer to as
Ringling Brothers strongly endorses H.R. 700. The need for
and value of such a program cannot be denied. Even though the
Asian Elephant Conservation Act is still relatively new and to
date has received only modest funding, the contribution it has
made and will continue to make toward the long-term survival of
the Asian elephant is invaluable.
Ringling Brothers veterinarians, trainers and other
specialists are among the leading experts in animal care and
behavior, and nowhere is this more true that in the case of
elephants. Consequently, Ringling Brothers has a long-
established commitment to the conservation of the Asian
elephant and other endangered species.
In 1995, Ringling Brothers established the Center for
Elephant Conservation, known as the CEC, to help assure the
present and future well-being of the Asian elephant species.
The CEC provides a safe and healthy environment in which
elephants feel secure and comfortable enough to breed. In its
five-year existence, there have been 10 births at the facility,
and we are currently expecting the birth of a new calf any day.
Additionally, there are four more confirmed pregnancies.
Ringling Brothers' elephants constitute the largest and most
diverse Asian elephant gene pool outside of Southeast Asia.
The CEC is also actively engaged in an elephant exchange
program with several zoos throughout the country. This will
enable us to strengthen and diversify not only the CEC's gene
pool, but also that of the United States as a whole. Moreover,
every successful breeding brings us a little closer to being
able to improve the propagation of captive elephants and of
wild populations in their range states. With its unparalleled
database, the CEC has become a global focal point for the
worldwide study of Asian elephant behavior and reproduction,
and the site for some of the most important research done on
Ringling Brothers has also helped to finance the Mahout
Training School in Lampang, Thailand. This school is a
residential program that trains Asian elephant handlers in
humane and skilled treatment and care, and also rehabilitates
elephants that have become dangerous and uncontrollable as the
result of mistreatment and abuse. The school's comprehensive
approach, encompassing training of both humans and elephants,
has led to significant improvements to the well-being and
continued survival of domestic Asian elephants.
It is no secret that Asian elephants inhabit some of the
most densely populated regions of the world, meaning that
elephants and people are in direct competition for the same
resources. The AECA emphasizes remedies that address human/
elephant conflict resolution, and assists initiatives in Asian
elephant range states by providing financial resources for
these programs that directly or indirectly promote the
conservation of Asian elephants and their habitats.
Working with relatively modest funds, the Asian Elephant
Conservation Fund has been able to contribute to an impressive
number of research and conservation projects. Grants under the
Fund often focus on projects that directly support and promote
wild elephant management practices. Funding is also available
for research and other projects that address the use of
domesticated elephants, as such use relates to the conservation
of Asian elephants in the wild.
Many of these projects also involve funding from local and
international non-government agencies such as the International
Elephant Foundation. This private foundation is a collaborative
effort of Ringling Brothers, the Fort Worth, Columbus and
Indianapolis Zoos, and other groups to support and operate in
situ elephant conservation and protection projects. It is also
involved in and supports propagation and other programs
involving domestic elephant populations around the world.
There is, of course, much more that can and should be done.
Full funding of the amount authorized for the Fund would
significantly enhance the beneficial impacts of the AECA.
Changes in the implementation of CITES to facilitate
international breeding programs would be of immeasurable value,
and the range states still need to do more themselves to
protect the elephants and their habitats.
Nonetheless, the AECA has made a valuable contribution
toward the preservation of this species and should be
continued. The need for the AECA remain unchanged from when it
was established just a few years ago. The threats to Asian
elephants and their habitat, both direct and indirect, remains
perilous. The Asian Elephant Conservation Fund continues to be
a necessary and vital tool for ensuring the survival of this
Ringling Brothers, along with the other groups here today,
remain as committed as ever to doing what we can to help, but
this is an international problem and the small amount from
private sources cannot satisfactorily address the overwhelming
and urgent need. The Asian Elephant Conservation Act provides
the additional assistance that those of us working to protect
the Asian elephant desperately need to ensure its survival.
Thank you, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kirtland follows:]
STATEMENT OF JOHN KIRTLAND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR ANIMAL STEWARDSHIP,
FELD ENTERTAINMENT, INC., RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY AND THE
FOUNDER OF RINGLING BROS. CENTER FOR ELEPHANT CONSERVATION, ON H.R. 700
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is John
Kirtland. I am the Executive Director for Animal Stewardship for Feld
Entertainment, Inc., which is the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum
& Bailey and the founder of the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant
Conservation, both of which I will collectively refer to as Ringling
Bros. I am testifying in support of H.R. 700, the Asian Elephant
Conservation Reauthorization Act.
Ringling Bros. strongly endorses H.R. 700. The Asian Elephant
Conservation Fund has only recently begun to have a tangible presence.
Yet the need for and value of such a program can't be denied. Even
though it is still relatively new and to date it has received only
modest funding, the contribution it has made and will continue to make
toward the long-term survival of this species is invaluable.
Ringling Bros. embodies 131 years of experience working with Asian
elephants and other exotic animals. Our veterinarians, trainers and
other specialists are among the leading experts in animal care and
behavior and nowhere is this more true than in the case of elephants.
These magnificent animals are today and have always been an integral
part of the circus experience. Not only have they entertained
generations of families, but their presence in the live performances
has done so much to teach us all about elephants, their place in the
natural world and the need to ensure their survival. As a result,
Ringling Bros. has a long-established commitment to the conservation of
the Asian elephant and other endangered species.
In the mid-1990's this commitment saw its two most significant
events, the establishment of the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant
Conservation and the passage of the Asian Elephant Conservation Act. I
am proud to say Ringling Bros. was among the earliest and leading
proponents of this legislation, along with several of the other groups
testifying here today. Thanks to our collective work and the tireless
efforts of a number of Members of Congress, including several from this
very Subcommittee, the AECA was enacted and a mechanism was put in
place to address the desperate needs of this species.
Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC)
While Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is known worldwide as a
leading live entertainment entity, the December 1995 opening of its
Center for Elephant Conservation, known as the CEC , grew out of one of
its more serious missions: to assure the present and future well-being
of the Asian elephant species.
The CEC is located in Polk County Florida and is the most
comprehensive facility of its kind. It incorporates experience and
expertise gained from 131 years of traveling and working closely with
Asian elephants and other exotic animals on tour. Ringling Bros.
personnel know how to interact with the animals and how to keep them
healthy, comfortable and well nourished. This unique experience and
understanding was used in determining facility features ranging from
the size and configuration of paddock areas and buildings to the design
of innovative gate systems, drinking troughs, shading areas and other
Ringling Bros . century of hands-on experience caring for Asian
elephants has provided valuable insights in many areas of elephant
husbandry, such as diet, waste removal, grooming and transportation of
the animals. A familiarity with and respect for the lifestyle of
breeding elephants was a determining factor in the selection of the
secluded Florida site, as well as the CEC's selective visitation
The CEC provides a safe, healthy environment in which the elephants
feel secure and comfortable enough to breed. The births of Romeo and
Juliette in 1992 and 1993 marked the first successful Asian elephant
conceptions and births in the Ringling Bros. breeding program, and they
were only the beginning. We have celebrated two more births, bringing
the total since the CEC's opening to 10. Currently we are expecting the
birth of a new calf any day and have four more confirmed pregnancies.
As a result, the herd at the CEC, together with the approximately 40
elephants currently traveling with the two touring units of The
Greatest Show on Earth , constitute the largest Asian elephant gene
pool outside of Southeast Asia.
The CEC is also actively engaged in a breeding loan/exchange
program with several zoos around the country. This will enable us to
strengthen and diversify not only the CEC's gene pool, but also that of
the United States as whole. Moreover, every successful breeding brings
us a little closer to being able to improve the propagation of captive
elephants and wild populations of elephants in their range states.
In order to ensure the greatest benefit to the species, Ringling
Bros. is firmly committed to ensuring that the knowledge and experience
gained at the CEC is shared with interested veterinarians, scientists
and scholars from around the world. With its unparalleled data base,
the CEC has become a global focal point for the worldwide study of
Asian elephant behavior and reproduction and the site for some of the
most important research done on Asian elephants. Exhibit A to my
testimony consists of a synopsis of the various research projects that
are underway at the CEC. The knowledge and understanding gained from
these and the other work of the CEC will go a long way in advancing
this multi-nation conservation effort.
Ringling Bros. has also helped to finance the Mahout Training
School in Lampang, Thailand. The Mahout Training School trains mahouts,
Asian elephant handlers, in humane and skilled elephant treatment and
care. The school is a residential program that teaches the humane
Northern Thai techniques for riding, controlling and caring for
elephants. Since its establishment, the school has successfully trained
mahouts from numerous regions of the world, including Thailand,
Malaysia, Sumatra, Indonesia, Africa and the West. The school also
rehabilitates elephants that have become dangerous and uncontrollable
as a result of mistreatment and abuse. Through the use of consistent
and humane treatment at the school, the elephants become safe and
employable, thereby increasing their chances of survival. The school's
comprehensive approach encompassing training of both the mahouts and
the elephants has led to significant improvements to the well-being and
continued survival of captive Asian elephants.
Asian Elephant Conservation Fund
As this Subcommittee is no doubt aware, the Asian elephant has been
and is increasingly in grave danger of extinction. In 1997, the
surviving populations in the wild were found in south and southeast
Asia and numbered between 35,000 and 45,000. In addition, there are
approximately 16,000 domesticated elephants. The Asian elephant is
currently listed as Endangered under the United States Endangered
Species Act, the IUCN Red List of Mammals and on Appendix I of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora, known as CITES. The Asian Elephant Conservation Act, known
as AECA, was passed by Congress in 1997. The AECA reflects what is now
a universally accepted concept: that, in order to preserve this or any
endangered species, the effort must focus on the area's of the world
that provide the species natural habitat.
Asian elephants inhabit some of the most densely populated areas of
the world. The ever-increasing pressures created by the exponential
growth of human populations on natural habitats in the form of
encroachment by human populations and forest clearance for large-scale
agricultural crops has resulted in a dramatic loss of forest cover.
This, in turn, has meant that elephants and people are in direct
competition for the same resources everywhere.
The AECA emphasizes remedies that address human/elephant conflict
resolution and assists initiatives in Asian elephant range states by
providing financial resources for those programs that directly or
indirectly promote the conservation of Asian elephants and their
habitats. Working with relatively modest funds, a little over $1
million to date, the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund has been able to
contribute to an impressive number of research and conservation
projects. Grants under the fund often focus on projects that directly
support and promote wild elephant management practices. Such projects
include: (a) monitoring population trends of known populations; (b)
assessing movement and ranging patterns of known populations; (c)
developing management plans for managed elephant ranges; (d)
resettlement of elephants; (e) anti-poaching assistance; and, (h) range
state community outreach and education. Funding is also available for
research and other projects that address use of domesticated elephants
as such use relates to the conservation of Asian elephants in the wild.
Many of these projects also involve funding from local and
international non-government entities like World Wildlife Fund and
Wildlife Preservation Trust International. Another such entity is the
International Elephant Foundation (IEF). This private foundation is a
collaborative effort of Ringling Bros., the Fort Worth, Columbus and
Indianapolis Zoos and other groups to support and operate in situ
elephant (African and Asia) conservation and protection projects. It
also is involved in and supports propagation and other programs
involving captive elephant populations around the world. The IEF has
already received an AECA grant for a project for the Support for the
Improved Health and Health Care management of Captive Elephant
Populations of Sumatran Asian Elephants.
There is, of course, much more that can and should be done. Full
funding of the amount authorized for the fund, as well as the other
species conservation funds, would significantly enhance the beneficial
impacts of the AECA. However, there are also problems that go beyond
the reach of the AECA. Changes in the implementation of CITES to
facilitate international breeding programs could be of immeasurable
value. And the range states still need to do more themselves to protect
the elephants and their habitats. Nonetheless, the AECA has made a
valuable contribution toward the preservation of this species and
should be continued.
The need for the AECA remains unchanged from when it was
established just a few years ago. The threats to Asian elephants and
their habitat, both direct and indirect, remain perilous. The Asian
Elephant Conservation Fund and the other components of the
Multinational Species Conservation Fund continue to be necessary and
vital tools for ensuring the survival of the targeted species around
the world. Ringling Bros., along with the other groups here today,
remain as committed as ever to doing what we can to help, but this is
an international problem and the small amount from private sources
cannot address the overwhelming and urgent need. The Asian Elephant
Conservation Act provides the additional assistance those of us working
to save the Asian elephant need to ensure its survival.
Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Mr. Kirtland.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS J. FOOSE, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL
Mr. Foose. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The rhino organizations
that I represent, which includes the International Rhino
Foundation and the Asian and African Rhino Specialist Groups of
IUCN, greatly appreciate the opportunity to testify before this
Subcommittee on rhino conservation in general, and specifically
in support of H.R. 645 to reauthorize the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Act. These organizations also support strongly
H.R. 643 and H.R. 700 because rhinos often live in the same
places as elephants and tigers, and indeed all three of these
Acts and Funds have been very beneficial to rhino conservation.
The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act was passed in a
time of great crisis for these rhino species. This crisis
continues, but has been ameliorated because of the crucial and
catalytic support from the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund.
The efforts of Congress to provide funds for conservation of
rhinos, as well as tigers and elephants, is most commendable,
much appreciated, and has indeed been very effective.
The continuing crisis for rhinos is most cogently and
poignantly conveyed by the current estimates of numbers of the
5 species and 11 subspecies of rhino. There are about 16,000 of
rhinos, of the 5 species and 11 subspecies, in the wild, but
over two-thirds of those are of just one subspecies, the
Southern White Rhino. The other subspecies of White Rhino, the
Northern White Rhino, is down to about 30 individuals.
The numbers of the other four species--the Black, Indian,
Sumatran and Javan--combined are fewer than 6,000. Indeed,
there are fewer Sumatran and Javan rhino combined than there
are Members of the House of Representatives. In fact, their
numbers would probably constitute little more than a
comfortable majority for either party in the House.
Mr. Abercrombie. We will take it.
Mr. Foose. The status and prospects of most of the rhino
species and subspecies is better than when the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Act was last reauthorized, and far better than
when the Act was originally passed. This is due in no small
part to the substantial and crucial support that has been
received from the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund.
I will just mention some of the notable improvements. The
populations of black rhino in Africa have not only stabilized,
but they have recovered from a low point of 2,300 in the mid-
1990's to 2,700 today. There has been continued increase of the
Southern White Rhino, as well as the Indian Rhino populations.
There has been the establishment, again with significant
support from the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund, of anti-
poaching teams, known as rhino protection units, for Sumatran
and Javan rhino in Southeast Asia.
However, there remain critical and precarious areas and
trends for rhino conservation, and I have discussed a number of
those in my written testimony. The bottom line is that there
should be no relaxation of, or complacency about, rhino
conservation efforts. The next 5 to 7 years are going to be
critical in terms of whether rhino species and subspecies
The United States has provided unique and unprecedented
leadership in the global efforts to save the rhino species.
Other speakers have mentioned how significant the amounts of
money have been, but more is needed. Basically, over the next 5
to 7 years, there is a need for at least $5 million in external
support for rhino range states in Asia, and an equal amount in
Africa. Therefore, the organizations I represent would
encourage an increase in appropriations for the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Fund to at least $1 million in Fiscal Year 2002,
and perhaps $1.5 million in subsequent years.
Just to provide a little perspective, if the $750,000 that
was appropriated in Fiscal Year 2001 is equally divided among
tigers, Asian rhinos and African rhinos, that would mean that
Asian rhinos would get $250,000. The anti-poaching teams that I
mentioned require about $20,000 each per year for support.
There are currently about 40 of them operating in Southeast
Asia for Sumatran and Javan rhinos. So the amount of money that
Asian rhinos might currently receive under the levels of
appropriation would only support four of those, and there is
need for at least 80 of those anti-poaching teams.
In summary, rhinos are still in crisis, but stabilization
and some recovery of numbers have commenced. The support from
the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund has been a critical and
catalytic factor in this improvement. There is need for the
support from the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund to continue
and, if possible, to increase.
Therefore, the organizations I represent are encouraging
Congress to reauthorize the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Act,
to work with other Members of Congress to increase the amount
of appropriations to at least $1 million for Fiscal Year 2002,
and perhaps an eventual goal of $1.5 million, and to
reauthorize the African and Asian Elephant Conservation Acts.
If I might just have one final comment, I would like to
observe that another reason that support from the United States
for rhino conservation in Africa and Asia is both appropriate
and ironic considers the history of the rhino family. The
United States was long ago a center of rhino distribution on
this planet. Rhinos were the most common large mammal in North
America from about 40 to about 5 million years ago, long before
the bison or the nutria arrived.
Native American rhinos disappeared because of ecological
reasons now well-known. However, through the Rhino and Tiger
Conservation Fund, as well as the efforts of AZA and its
Species Survival Programs for rhinos and the IRF, the United
States has the opportunity to help save the surviving species
of this venerable, and once American, family of mammals from
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Foose follows:]
STATEMENT OF THOMAS J. FOOSE, PH.D., PROGRAM DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL
I am Dr. Thomas J. Foose. I am the Program Director of the
International Rhino Foundation (IRF), which is a non-governmental
organization (NGO) exclusively concerned with rhino conservation
worldwide, both in situ and ex situ, and especially with linking the
two approaches. The IRF is directly contributing $700,000/year and is
coordinating or administering another $300,000/year for a total of
$1,000,000 per year on rhino conservation projects. I also serve as the
Program Officer for the Asian Rhino Specialist Group (AsRSG) of the
Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN - The World Conservation
Union, and as a member of their African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG).
Finally, I am Secretary of the Rhinoceros Taxon Advisory Group (Rhino
TAG) and am the North American Rhinoceros Studbook Keeper for the
American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Today, I am representing
the IRF, both Rhino Specialist Groups, and the Rhino TAG.
The organizations I represent greatly appreciate the opportunity to
testify before this Subcommittee on rhino conservation in general and
specifically in support of HR 645 to re-authorize the Rhinoceros and
Tiger Conservation Act of 1994. These organizations also support HR 643
& HR 700 to reauthorize the African Elephant and Asian Elephant
Conservation Acts. My comments will refer mostly to rhinos and hence
apply mostly to HR 645. However, rhinos, elephants, and tigers
frequently occupy the same areas and habitats. All three of these
multinational species conservation funds have assisted rhino
conservation, directly or indirectly.
The Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994 was passed in a
time of great crisis for these species. This crisis continues. The Act
was also passed at a time of particular budgetary stringency for the
U.S. Congress. The current proposal for reauthorization is also
occurring at a time when federal government budgets are under great
scrutiny and strictures because of other major priorities. The efforts
of many members of Congress to provide funds for conservation of
rhinos, tigers, and elephants in a time of budgetary austerity is most
commendable, much appreciated, and very effective.
The continuing crisis for rhinos is most cogently and poignantly
conveyed by the current estimates of numbers for the 5 species and 11
subspecies of rhinoceros: (Tables 1-2, Figures 1-5): (1) About 16,000
rhinos of 5 species and 11 subspecies survive in the wild. (2) However,
two-thirds (10,400) of these rhinos are of one subspecies, the Southern
White Rhino. The other subspecies of White Rhino, the Northern White
Rhino, is estimated at 30 individuals. (3) The numbers of the other
four species (Black, Indian, Sumatran, and Javan) combined are fewer
than 6,000. (4) The numbers of the 3 Asian species of rhino combined
(2,700+) are about equal to the rarer of the 2 African species, i.e.
the black rhino. (5) There are fewer Sumatran and Javan Rhino combined
than there are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.For
perspective, it should be observed that conservation biologists believe
that a population of at least 2,000-3,000, and preferably 5,000 or
more, of each distinct kind (i.e., subspecies or geographical variety)
of rhino is necessary for long-term viability. Most of the species and
all but two of the subspecies of rhino are far below this viability
Rhinos are capable of recovery if provided with a reasonable
opportunity. It should be noted that the two kinds of rhino which have
prospered the most in recent years, the southern white and the Indian,
were almost lost around the start of the 20th Century through over-
exploitation. Stringent protection in South Africa, India, and Nepal
recovered these species in each case from about 20-40 individuals.
The status and prospects for most of the rhino species and
subspecies are better than when the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Act was last reauthorized in 1998 and far better than when the Act was
originally passed in 1994.
Among the notable improvements are:
LThe stabilization and recovery of the Black Rhino as a
species from a low point of 2,300 in the early 1993 to well over 2,700
today, an increase of at least 20%, but still far from the 60,000+ that
existed in 1970.
LContinuation of the vigorous growth of the Southern White
Rhino population to over 10,000. Most of them are in a single country,
the Republic of South Africa. This country has performed magnificently
in recovering the Southern White Rhino from near extinction around 1900
to its prosperity today. However, there are always risks possible when
an endangered species is located in a single political unit.
LContinued increase in the populations of Indian rhino in
India and Nepal, despite substantial poaching pressure and extreme
budgetary limitations in these countries.
LThe establishment of a system of effective anti-poaching
teams known as rhino protection units (RPUs) in South East Asia which
seems to be ameliorating the poaching problem for Sumatran Rhino in
Indonesia and Malaysia and for Javan Rhino in Indonesia and Vietnam.
The Rhino & Tiger Conservation Act has contributed substantially
and crucially to these improvements.
However, there remain critical and precarious areas and trends for
LThe Northern White Rhino is literally on the brink of
extinction with only 30 surviving in the eastern Democratic Republic of
Congo, which has been a war zone since 1997.
LThe Northwestern Black Rhino, which survives only in
Cameroon, is almost extinct.
LNumbers of Sumatran and Javan Rhino remain precariously
low and at best are only now stabilizing, with potential recovery still
in the future.
LPressures on the Indian Rhino remain high and seem to be
intensifying again, e.g. in Nepal.
LMoreover, virtually all of the rhino range states in both
Africa and Asia are confronting enormous problems in terms of human
needs and many of these nations are or soon will be in economic,
political, social difficulty and even turmoil.
LIndeed, it should be noted how linked rhino conservation
has become with global political and economic events, e.g.
* LThe northern white rhino in the DRC with the civil and
regional wars and strife in this region.
* LThe Sumatran and Javan rhino with the economic and political
crises in S.E. Asia.
The bottom line is that there should be no relaxation of or
complacency about rhino conservation efforts. The next 5-7 years are
going to be critical in terms of whether the rhino species and
Rhinos are part of the planet's heritage of biodiversity. Hence,
rhino conservation should be a global endeavor. Moreover, the close
linkage of rhino conservation with geopolitical events reinforces the
justification for global efforts to help these species.
The United States has provided unique and unprecedented leadership
in such global efforts. Since 1994, the approximately $3 Million
provided by the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund (RTCF) has been
catalytic and crucial to many rhino conservation programs. These RTCF
funds have also been direct leverage for over $4 Million in matching
and in-kind support from other sources and have been an indirect
stimulus for probably another $4-5 Million.
Moreover, in addition to the benefit of the funds, the RTCF has
served an extremely significant function to help better coordinate and
improve the quality and rigor of many rhino conservation programs. In
this regard, the organizations I represent commend the USFWS for the
manner in which it has administered the RTCF.
It should also be noted that the private sector in partnership with
range state governments has played and will continue to play a vital
role in rhino conservation in both Africa and Asia, e.g.- The private
sanctuaries in Asia and the conservancies and ranches in southern
Africa.- The involvement of NGOs and private partners in S.E. Asia to
support rhino conservation and develop its financial sustainability.
The USFWS through the RTCF has become an important partner to both
range state governments, NGOs, and private parties in these endeavors.
The Rhino Specialist Groups (AsRSG and AfRSG), IRF, WWF and other
NGO partners have assisted rhinoceros range states to formulate
continental and national action plans, to prioritize specific programs
and projects, and to calculate the costs of rhino conservation and
particularly the needs of range states for external support. Details
are available in the Action Plans developed by the AsRSG and AfRSG.
Basically, over the next 5-7 years, there is need for at least:
L$5 million/year in external support per year for rhino
range states in Asia
L$5 million/year in external support per year for rhino
range states in Africa.
The private sector can provide some of these funds but it is vital
that the U.S. Government and the RTCF also continue to contribute, and
if possible at an increased level.
Therefore, the organizations I represent would encourage an
increase in appropriations for the RTCF to at least $1 million in
Fiscal 2002 and perhaps $1,500,000 in subsequent years. This amount
would complement and stimulate continued matching funds from other NGOs
and private partners to achieve the levels of external funding the
range states need. Although the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act
has been authorized for up to $10 million/year, the largest
appropriation from Congress has been $750,000 in Fiscal 2001. There are
indications that the request in the Fiscal 2002 Budget submitted by the
President may revert to Fiscal 2000 levels, i.e. $700,000. While this
level of funds is vital and most appreciated, it increasingly is
insufficient to satisfy the need, particularly as range state budgets
for rhino conservation decline because of other, more human-oriented
problems. For perspective, just consider that RTCF funds must assist 5
species and 11 subspecies of rhino as well as at least 5 subspecies of
tiger. If the funds are distributed equally among regions and species,
then one-third, i.e., about $250,000 would be available for Asian
rhinos, $250,000 for African rhinos, and $250,000 for tigers. In Asia,
such a distribution could provide only about $80,000 for each of the
three species of rhino. For comparison, the cost of 1 anti-poaching
team for Sumatran rhino is about $17-20,000/year. So $80,000 might
support 3 or 4 RPUs. There are currently 40 RPUs operating for Sumatran
rhino and there is need for twice that many. Similar cost/need analyses
could be provided for the other 2 Asian and the 2 African species with
their numerous subspecies.
Of course, all appeals to the Federal Government for funding are
considered important and immediate by their advocates. However, some
needs are intrinsically more immediate than others. The simple fact is
that substantial support for rhinos and tigers is needed now. If
adequate funds cannot be provided, the need will disappear because the
rhinos and tigers will have vanished.
LRhinos are still in crisis but stabilization and some
recovery of numbers have commenced.
LSupport from the RTCF has been a critical and catalytic
factor in this improvement.
LThere is need for support from the RTCF to continue and
if possible to increase over the next 5-7 years.
LTherefore, the IRF, the IUCN/SSC Asian and African Rhino
Specialist Groups, and the AZA Rhino Advisory Group encourage Congress
LReauthorize the Rhino and Tiger Act through the Year 2007
as proposed in HR 645.
LIncrease the amount of the appropriations to at least $1
Million for Fiscal 2002, toward a goal of $1,500,000/fiscal year in the
LReauthorize the African and Asian Elephant Conservation
Acts, which provide substantial support for rhinos as well as the
species for which they are designated.
As final comment, may I observe another reason that support from
the United States for rhino conservation in Asia and Africa is both
appropriate and ironic considering the history of the rhino family. The
United States was long ago the center of rhino distribution on this
planet. Rhinos were the most common large mammal in North America from
about 40 until about 5 million years ago, long before the bison
arrived. Native American rhinos disappeared because of ecological
reasons not well known. However, through the RTCF, as well as the
efforts of IRF and the AZA and its Species Survival Programs for rhino,
the United States has the opportunity to help save the surviving
species of this venerable and once American family of mammals from
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee.
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Mr. Gilchrest. Thank you, Dr. Foose. I am not sure what
Farley Mowatt would think of the plan for the nutria over the
next couple of years.
I guess I would like to start with Mr. Berry. First of all,
each of you had extraordinary testimony, from the wildly
optimistic to the despair of pessimism. We will take your
message to our colleagues, the appropriators, and will work
very hard to increase as dramatically as we can this funding.
One of the potential targets for dollars is an unnecessary
core project which might be about $100 million that we could
bring into this program, if we could just convince the energy
and water appropriators that this particular core project is
unnecessary. So maybe Neil and I will go after one. We will get
our Subcommittee to target that.
Mr. Berry, you mentioned a poem by William Blake about
tigers. Do you have that with you?
Mr. Berry. I can get that for you for the record, Mr.
Mr. Gilchrest. Now, that is not the--
Mr. Berry. ``Tiger, tiger, burning bright'' that we all
remember from school and childhood. I will be sure we get that
in to you today.
Mr. Gilchrest. You could e-mail that to the Subcommittee
and our respective offices, I guess.
Is that William Blake?
Mr. Berry. Yes, sir.
Mr. Gilchrest. William Blake?
Mr. Berry. William Blake.
Mr. Gilchrest. You mentioned the problems in China, but the
successes in Cambodia. Could you give us some idea about the
differences in the local people, the political climate, the
government, the university people you may have talked to? Why
are you being successful in Cambodia and not in China?
Mr. Berry. I should say we have just begun work and found
signs of hope in Cambodia, Mr. Chairman. Recent surveys through
some of the projects that we have been able to fund in some of
the mountain regions of Cambodia found numbers of tigers in
populations that we estimate between 500 and 700 in that
region, and very good habitat, good prey base, a good habitat
I don't think that those numbers are the result of any
project specifically that has been underway as a result of the
efforts of the past 5 to 10 years. I think it is more a result
of the past history of Cambodia and the fact that they don't
have the human population pressures in those regions that we
found. The poaching situation obviously has not impacted on
that region as significantly as it has, for example, in Burma,
where similar studies, like we said, found no tigers in those
I think some of the most optimistic work that is being
done--and you hear the World Wildlife Fund talk about it--is
this concept of corridor and linkage that is underway. And a
critical area that we are working in partnership with WWF and
the Fish and Wildlife Service is the Terai Arc, which is a very
huge region on the border of Nepal and India. It is wonderful
habitat of both forest, tall grass, low mountains. It is the
foothills of the Himalayas.
We have a number of protected reserve areas in existence
already. For example, it is anchored in the southeast by the
Chitwan Reserve, and there are a number of others. Working with
the King Mahendra Trust and the Nepal and the Indian
governments, we are developing that concept of corridor
protection with those local communities between the reserve
areas to provide much broader habitat potential for the future.
That is an area rich in tigers that really has great hope for
I think our most productive work to date I would put in
India, Nepal, Indonesia, and the Russian Far East. I think with
the results that we got from some of the initial science in
Cambodia, we are going to try to continue to do work with
WildAid and others there because I think obviously that
population--if we can protect that and continue the growth rate
there, it might spell hope for the future in reintroducing the
tiger to Burma.
Mr. Gilchrest. It is amazing they survived the Khmer Rouge
in the 1970's. When I was in Vietnam in the 1960's, on the
Cambodian border, a fairly remote region, it wouldn't be
uncommon for us at night to hear tigers. It fascinated us and
gave us a cold chill at the same time.
Are there any tigers left, then, in any area of Vietnam, if
they are in Cambodia?
Mr. Berry. I am not aware. Tracy Walmer is our chief staff
on the Save the Tiger Fund and our in-house expert on this, and
we can provide you some more information.
Mr. Gilchrest. I know you are doing it with India and
Nepal. With the tigers in Cambodia, is there any effort for a
regional approach to connect what you are doing in Cambodia
with possibly Vietnam and then maybe Laos and China?
Mr. Berry. I think there is no question there is hope for
that in the future. China may already be too far gone to
Mr. Gilchrest. But if China is too far gone to recover, is
there any area in China, if you can push a regional approach,
that would be suitable habitat?
Mr. Berry. There is no question the habitat potential is
there in certain places in eastern China. But I think you heard
from World Wildlife, because resources are limited, we really
need to focus the resources on those areas where we can have
the highest probability of success.
Mr. Gilchrest. I see. Is it worth, let's say, the
government discussion, a group of government officials from our
country and university people discussing this issue with the
Chinese and their university people?
Mr. Berry. Absolutely, and a lot of those discussions, for
example, are underway now with, for example, on tiger parts and
traditional medicine with the College of Traditional Medicine
in China. We are trying to approach those discussions. That is
going to be critical.
I think our most productive success we can have in China,
though, is dealing with that issue and the issue of demand on
the trade because that spells the future on the whole issue of
poaching and the black market. So our campaign there is more
focused in that regard than it is on reintroduction programs in
that effort, because again trying to preserve them where those
wild populations are sustainable now is really the primary
focus of the funds.
Mr. Gilchrest. I have some more questions, but I am going
to yield now to Mr. Abercrombie.
Mr. Abercrombie. Just a couple, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Berry, it is nice to see you and I am pleased that you
are in this position. I am sure you are going to do a terrific
job. With the Chinese question, did I understand you correctly
that because of the interest in China in the commercial
products associated with tigers that that might be the angle to
approach this, that they will rapidly not have anything? They
can fake it, of course, and I don't doubt that there will be
plenty of that, but that would probably get around even in
China in fairly rapid fashion.
Am I correct, then, that you are saying that the angle to
come in at this is that they need to be working with us and
other organizations in order to have a supply of tigers at all?
And if that is the case, would they be talking about tigers in
the wild or talking about tigers effectively being domesticated
Mr. Berry. We are trying to encourage, working with
practitioners of alternative approaches, to accomplish the same
effective means without using tiger parts at all. The
sustainable harvesting approach--there is clearly nothing to
produce that in China now, and so what it is doing is fueling
black market poaching in tigers in all of the other places in
the world that are under pressure.
Mr. Abercrombie. For import?
Mr. Berry. Right, and so the efforts now that we are
undertaking in China are a two-prong approach. One is working
with the traditional practitioners, and the other is
undertaking culturally-sensitive advertising campaigns to
convince populations that their use of these products is having
the impact of forcing these species into extinction.
Mr. Abercrombie. Excuse me, Mr. Berry, because my time is
short. The only problem with that is if I understand the way it
is operating in China, that will be used by the merchants to
say you better buy it now and get it quick because it is going
away and we are going to charge you more. And they could care
less whether every tiger in the world is decimated; they will
keep on going, and after that they will lie.
We don't need to pursue it further, but, Mr. Chairman, I
think possibly in relation to contacting the Chinese or making
some efforts, I think the only way we can make this work,
including having survival in the wild, which I hope could
possibly have some ecotourism implications or something--I
don't know--phototourism or something, if the Chinese would
ever allow it; that is so far down the line as to probably be
But it probably has to be in the line of, look, you are
going to run out of this stuff and you are going to have
everything else killed in short order anyway, so why don't we
work toward the idea of domestication--and I don't mean that in
any pejorative sense at all--maybe reserves or preserves or
something of that nature, if only with the idea of some kind of
harvesting, if you get enough to be able to do that.
I hope that doesn't offend anybody. I am trying to think
how to save--it does offend you?
Ms. Steuer. May I?
Mr. Abercrombie. Certainly.
Ms. Steuer. ``Offense'' is probably the wrong word, but I
think I just take a different angle on it. IFAW has a very
active office in China, in Beijing, where we work very closely
with the Chinese government on the traditional medicine issue,
in particular, not only as it relates to tigers, but as it
relates to other Appendix I CITES-listed species like bears.
What we have found to be the really successful approach in
this regard is that if you get to the practitioners and
convince them that--and we have done so in the case of bears
and are working on it in the case of tigers--that their
Mr. Abercrombie. Run that last sentence by me again. I am
Ms. Steuer. That is all right. If you work with the Chinese
medicine practitioners, not just in China but elsewhere in
Asian communities around the world, as we are doing in the
United Kingdom and in the United States, which is now the
second largest consumer of traditional medicine products in the
world and where the demand has grown 280 percent in the last
decade for traditional medicines, which are uncontrolled for
the large part--
Mr. Abercrombie. I understand.
Ms. Steuer. If you can get to the practitioners, what we
have found in China, particularly in relation to bears, is that
they can be convinced, and in the case of bear gall bladder
products have been convinced to an increasing degree, that
there are alternatives which work just as well for them and
which don't, for lack of a better term, embarrass them into
being the source of an endangerment, and in the case of the
tiger for a species that has been an emblem for their nation
and part of their nation's heritage for hundreds and hundreds
of years. So we do think that the alternatives approach can
work, but it takes time, and I think the turnaround is
occurring in China and elsewhere.
Mr. Abercrombie. Well, obviously, at this hearing we won't
be able to pursue that in the length and depth that it
requires, but perhaps on the funding side, Mr. Chairman, that
is something that we need to look at and then need to figure
out what to do.
You understand my motivation? I am trying to figure out how
to make it work. Can you indulge me a moment more, Mr.
Mr. Gilchrest. Yes.
Mr. Abercrombie. I want to make a transition, then, to Mr.
Kirtland and I want to commend Feld for the work that it is
doing in this regard.
Mr. Kirtland. Thank you.
Mr. Abercrombie. It would not have ordinarily been thought
of that Ringling Brothers could be a catalyst in this, and I
think that that is one of the things that helps me think about,
okay, how can we make this work, how can we induce others for
I will tell you why. In politics, I have discovered the
only way you get votes is to get people to vote with you for
their reasons. Very seldom do people vote with you for your
reasons. If they do, that is wonderful.
Mr. Gilchrest. That is how I got elected.
Mr. Abercrombie. So what I was looking for especially in
this context is what can we do to make a presentation that
doesn't look like we are imposing something on them because it
suits us, as opposed to working with them on something that
they consider to be in their interests and that we are being
supportive of them in that regard--and that includes not only
other cultures, but I mean the private interests and non-profit
interests in our own Nation and in the Western world--and to
make it be something more than just recompense for the fact
that Western society entered into all of these nations, after
all, and set loose the forces of modernity which are now
running rampant over traditional cultures without necessarily
the sufficient time and capacity to make the transition to
preserve those areas both physically and psychologically that
helped to sustain the previous culture.
With that in mind, with the Center for Elephant
Conservation, are you doing breeding with zoos in the United
States and around the world with the Ringling Brothers
Mr. Kirtland. We would certainly like to. We have entered
into a number of projects with other zoos. In fact, we have had
very preliminary discussions with the Honolulu Zoo, in your own
home State, about sending an elephant to Honolulu when they
Mr. Abercrombie. When we do the reauthorization and we go
to the appropriators, is there any contemplation that perhaps
we could put money up to work with you and similar private and
public organizations to do cross-breeding in a serious way
around the world?
I don't want to see non-profit organizations or even
foundations set up from a profit-making organization like
Ringling Brothers to have to sustain all of the expenses of
sending animals to be able to do cross-breeding, because you
want to get the genetic pool as broad as possible, right?
Mr. Kirtland. Absolutely.
Mr. Abercrombie. And to move an animal is a traumatic
experience for that animal, so it has to be done in a very
sensitive way, and probably expensive as a result, right?
Mr. Kirtland. It is expensive. It is not necessarily
traumatic. Our elephants move all over the country on a
virtually daily basis.
Mr. Abercrombie. Well, the elephants in South Asia, I
notice, are willing to put up with human beings. That is
remarkable on their part.
Mr. Kirtland. But it is expensive, as you said, and it is
time-consuming. We do need to look at easier ways to be able to
move animals across national and international borders in terms
of captive propagation because in many cases the captive
propagation is going to be the only thing that is going to
ensure the survival of some of these species.
Mr. Abercrombie. But the Center is willing to utilize the
existing elephant population in the Feld organization for this
purpose, is that right?
Mr. Kirtland. Absolutely. We have animals there that are
dedicated to breeding, and we will continue to do that.
Mr. Abercrombie. It is kind of an interesting phrase. You
are dedicated to breeding. Yes, I imagine they are.
Mr. Abercrombie. Only in my imagination, though.
Do you have volunteers? Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Kirtland. We are working with other zoos and we would
continue to work, and we would certainly look for other
opportunities to broaden the relationships we have with other
public display entities throughout North America and the world.
Mr. Abercrombie. Mr. Chairman, one of the things I would
like to suggest is perhaps in the funding side of it we look to
that angle because I don't think we can necessarily expect the
non-profit and/or foundation area supported by profit-making
entities to necessarily be able to swing all of the expenses.
That might be part and parcel of some of the leveraging money
that we take.
The last question I have is--and anybody can answer this--
am I correct that, like, say with the rhinos--Dr. Foose, when I
had the opportunity to travel with Mr. Pombo on the CITES
oversight and the Campfire program and we saw the rhino
preservation and breeding activities that are taking place in
southern Africa, it was very impressive. But the amount of
money that you are talking about is so modest. I take it what
you are saying is that that little bit of money leverages other
dollars. Is that correct?
Mr. Foose. Very much so, yes.
Mr. Abercrombie. So if we could increase even to some
modest degree the base funding there, would that have the
effect of being able to leverage additional dollars, do you
Mr. Foose. Without doubt, without doubt, it would.
If I might just comment on the discussion that you were
previously conducting, the funds that are available for rhino
and tiger and elephant are so limited and the highest priority,
as some of the other witnesses have commented, is really to
prevent the poaching that is occurring in the wild. And I don't
pretend to know if something like this would be possible, but
maybe to achieve what you were proposing in terms of trying to
provide support to assist captive propagation, which we believe
is also a very integral component of diversified strategies for
conservation of all of these species, maybe there could be tax
breaks for companies like Fed Ex, which has moved rhinos and
elephants in the past.
Mr. Abercrombie. Well, Fed Ex got a huge thing with moving
the pandas, tremendous publicity.
Mr. Berry. They have got a lot of publicity, but perhaps as
this would become more routine and more frequent, if there
could be some provisions that would--
Mr. Abercrombie. Well, we are giving tax breaks to
everybody else just for showing up and breathing, so I don't
see why we couldn't do it when you are actually accomplishing
Mr. Gilchrest. We will add that to the text when it gets to
the House Floor.
Mr. Abercrombie. That is a good point, but the Chairman has
overindulged me for the moment and I am very appreciative of
that. I just want to say how much I appreciate all of that.
I hope you are all supportive of the Campfire system. I was
very, very impressed by that, and they have got terrible
trouble now there from the politics in the area and I hope that
this may be one way for the average person over there, as well
as the animals we are seeking to work with and help survive, to
survive all the rest of it.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gilchrest. Well, thank you, Mr. Abercrombie. It would
be helpful and conducive, I guess, if we could recess to a
large, open space, have lunch together and continue this
conversation for the rest of the afternoon, but I have other
commitments that are crying out for attention, as well as many
of the rest of you. But I appreciate those questions and we
will have further discussion on that, and some of those
specific recommendations certainly will be put into the pieces
of legislation that pass through here that would be appropriate
to make all of this happen.
Mr. Abercrombie. Just before we conclude, could we ask if
there are some suggestions on--
Mr. Gilchrest. I have just got a couple of more questions.
Mr. Abercrombie. I beg your pardon. I thought you were
Mr. Gilchrest. I am just going to sort of move through
Ms. Steuer, can you comment on the recent African ivory
sales that, on the one hand, seem to provide funds for that
government to continue to help in the conservation efforts,
versus the potential incentive for more poaching?
Ms. Steuer. A loaded question. The relatively small amount
of funding that came out of the most recent set of ivory sales,
which is the 1997 sale for Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, did,
from all the follow-up investigation, appear to go back into
conservation programs in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. As
Congressman Abercrombie just referred to the problem in
Zimbabwe, I am not sure what we are going to be seeing from
them in terms of conservation in the near future of their
We do expect additional requests for ivory sales to come at
the next CITES Conference of the Parties from Zimbabwe,
Botswana, Namibia, and we expect South Africa, potentially
Tanzania as well. The issue all along, as you alluded to in
your question, Mr. Gilchrest, is that whenever you fuel a
demand, or for lack of a better term put a stamp of approval on
a demand, it becomes extremely difficult to tell anybody living
in western or central Africa or anywhere in Asia that while
demand for ivory related to elephants living in Botswana,
Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa is fine, demand for ivory
from elephants in Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, India, China--
pick one--is not good.
Our information and the history is that the minute poachers
and ivory traders believe that legal sales will begin again,
they stock up. So all along our issue has not been technically
what is going on in the countries that want to sell their
ivory. It has been the impact of that on the rest of Africa and
Africa's elephants, and the rangers are giving their lives
everyday because of it.
Mr. Gilchrest. Dr. Robinson, at the beginning of Ms.
Steuer's testimony she sort of brought us back to reality with
the potential for real extinction of these species over the
next few years. The way the program is presently structured and
funded, which is pretty minimal, I guess, if nothing changes,
do you see some of these species becoming extinct even with the
program that we now have?
Dr. Robinson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think what we are
grappling with at the present time is minimal funding which is
supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts in a number of
locations. With our present level of funding, we will tend to
slowly lose populations. They are going to slowly wink out
across the population.
However, if we can take the available funding and really
leverage it in a much more effective way, I am fairly
optimistic that we are going to be able to hold on to all of
these species. It is a statement of faith that I don't think we
have to lose any of these species. We have been subject to
years of gloom and doom about these species, and yet we have
been able to hold on to them.
Species like the Javan rhino are really at the edge. If
there is a species which is vulnerable, it is that kind of
species. But even for that species, with effective
conservation, I think we can actually hold on. So the situation
is not optimistic. We are slowly losing a lot of fights across
the landscape, but I don't think that is cause for loss of
Mr. Gilchrest. Mr. Kirtland, are there any artificial
insemination activities with any of these animals?
Mr. Kirtland. Yes, there is, and it is starting to show
some success. But artificial insemination should not be really
looked at as the answer to replace natural breeding, but there
has been some success. The Indianapolis Zoo, for instance, has
just had a couple of elephants born through artificial
insemination; I think the Pittsburgh Zoo, as well. But it is
limited and it is far more difficult in reality than letting
the male and the female get together and do what they need to
Mr. Gilchrest. Is there ever any difficulty moving animals
from one country to another?
Mr. Kirtland. Yes, there is, and that is one of the issues
that we addressed earlier. We would like to see more
cooperation between governments. In fact, Ringling Brothers
tried to import an animal from Canada several years ago. The
permit languished for almost 18 months. It was never formally
denied, and the end result was the animal ended up in Europe,
where he promptly impregnated several females over there.
Mr. Gilchrest. What was the reason for the delay in this
Mr. Kirtland. I think the problem is in CITES, which
unfortunately does not make a distinction between wild
populations and domestic population. The Asian elephants in
North America are domestic elephants; they are not wild
elephants. And by prohibiting their propagation, it does
absolutely nothing to ensure the survival of the wild
populations. But because CITES prohibits breeding for
commercial purposes, it interferes and impedes the propagation
of the domestic population.
Mr. Gilchrest. How was the animal able to be transferred to
Germany and impregnate females there but not impregnate females
Mr. Kirtland. The Canadian government authorized the export
from Canada to the United States immediately, but our permit
request sort of died in the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mr. Gilchrest. So that is an area that needs some attention
Mr. Kirtland. Absolutely.
Mr. Gilchrest. Dr. Foose, you said the next 5 to 7 years
are critical with Asian rhinos. What will happen in the next 5
to 7 years? Does the program that we now have need to increase
the funding? Are there political obstacles, monetary obstacles,
habitat problems? If we get past the next 5 to 7 years, does it
Mr. Foose. It doesn't look bright, but there certainly is
some basis for optimism. As Dr. Robinson commented, there
really is no reason to lose these species, and the history of
rhinos actually does provide some encouragement.
I alluded briefly to the fact that the most abundant kind
of rhino on the planet today, the Southern White Rhino, which
now is over 10,000 individuals, was down to fewer than 40 in
1900. And through very, very strict protection, they have been
able to recover to the number that exists today. The same is
true of the Indian Rhino. The Indian Rhino was probably down,
certainly in India, to fewer than 40 individuals, maybe as few
as 20, and a similar situation in Nepal, and they have been
able to recover to a couple of thousand individuals.
Mr. Gilchrest. When you get to that few animals, you have
such a small gene pool there that that seemingly doesn't have
an effect on the species?
Mr. Foose. It can, but it is more important how long the
population remains small rather than how small it gets. If a
population becomes very small but is permitted to recover very
rapidly, all of the evidence, both theoretical and
experimental, indicates that you do maintain a viable gene
We still have the potential of conserving viable
populations of all of the taxa of rhinos, but it is going to
require even greater commitment than has occurred in the past,
and a very important contribution to that would be increased
appropriations for the Rhino and Tiger Conservation Fund.
Mr. Gilchrest. Well, Neil and I will look for that core
I wish we had more time.
Mr. Berry. Mr. Chairman, I think it would be a disservice
to this Committee--and I have not heard it raised today and
Karen and I were discussing this. All of these issues are
interconnected, but there is one issue in Africa, the issue of
AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, that is also inextricably linked, I
believe, with the conservation of these species.
Mr. Gilchrest. The issue of what?
Mr. Berry. Of AIDS in the human population. Its impact in
Sub-Saharan Africa and the economic impact, the pressures it
places for increased demand on black markets, on poaching, down
to the ability to maintain anti-poaching staff and personnel,
is one that we are finding, and I know many conservation
organizations are finding increasingly hard. So I think as the
Congress deals with these issues, we would be remiss not to
Mr. Gilchrest. We will take a close look at that.
Thank you all very much. Again, I wish we had a lot more
time to deal with this, but we will make an effort to stay in
touch with all of you and pursue these efforts very strongly
and, with some of your recommendations, travel to distant and
beautiful parts of the globe and take a look at it.
Thank you all very much.
I have got a couple of housekeeping chores here. The record
will remain open for 10 business days for anybody to include
anything into the record.
I would also like to say that Macy Bell and Kevin Frank did
a great job, a great job.
The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:46 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]