WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a positive response to a scientific petition submitted last year by animal protection groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said increased Endangered Species Act protections may be warranted for the African elephant. Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare submitted the original petition on Feb. 11, 2015.
Following today's preliminary positive finding on the petition, the FWS will now invite information from scientists and the public about the African elephants' status and threats to determine whether an Endangered listing would be appropriate. With some exceptions, an Endangered listing would prohibit the import of African elephant trophies as well as the import, export and domestic trade in elephant parts, including ivory.
Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D., director of the wildlife department at HSI, said: "The science clearly supports an Endangered listing for the African elephant and we are encouraged the U.S. has taken this critical step toward greater protection for this majestic species."
"Today's decision is a critical step in the government's promise to protect elephants," said Peter LaFontaine, campaigns officer, IFAW. "The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful law we have in this country to safeguard elephants against the unnecessary threats of trade and trophy hunting. We thank the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for recognizing that the species is becoming more critically endangered and stronger protections may be warranted."
African elephant populations have declined 60 percent since the FWS listed them as Threatened in 1978. The steep decline is largely a result of habitat loss, poaching, commercial exploitation, trophy hunting, human-elephant conflict, regional conflict and instability, and climate change. Between 2005 and 2014, trophy hunters imported parts of 4,600 African elephants to the U.S.
If the government moves forward with heightened protections under the Endangered Species Act, the import, export and interstate sale of African elephant parts would be prohibited in the United States, unless such activity can be shown to enhance the survival of the species.
About Humane Society International
Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.
About The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation's largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our 60 years of transformational change for animals, and visit us online at humanesociety.org.
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare