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Species conservation under Appendix I.

Of the over 33,000 species protected by CITES, about 900 are in Appendix I, which consists of animals and plants threatened with extinction. Appendix I includes rhinoceroses, lemurs, the tiger, the Andean condor, Spix's macaw, sea turtles, the Galapagos tortoise, and the monkey-puzzle tree.

Concerned for the plight of these highly endangered species, CITES countries have sought long-term solutions, beyond the narrow trade focus of the Convention, to protect and conserve them. Both range countries and consuming countries are urged to take action to reduce poaching and illegal trade, and to adopt and implement national wildlife legislation and enforcement controls. In addition, CITES calls upon governments, international aid agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to provide funding and other support for broader research and conservation efforts.

U.S. law mirrors our country's support for international species protection and conservation. Congress has passed not only the Endangered Species Act but also a number of other conservation laws to assist certain species at risk (rhinos, tigers, elephants, great apes, and marine turtles). Each of these laws establishes a fund to be administered through a competitive grant program by the Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of International Conservation. For each species, the Service supports projects addressing research, management, human-wildlife conflict resolution, community outreach, conservation education, and law enforcement. It develops in-country partnerships with natural resource agencies, academic institutions, local community groups, government and non-government entities, and others committed to benefiting these highly endangered species.

Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund Rhinos and tigers are among the most charismatic and endangered species on earth. Five species of Asian and African rhinos are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Only five of the seven historically known subspecies of tigers remain, totaling 5,000 to 7,500 animals in the wild. Commercial poaching, a declining prey base due to over hunting, and loss of habitat are principal threats. The rhinoceros and tiger conservation funds seek to strengthen the conservation activities of the range countries since the ultimate survival of rhinos and tigers in the wild rests with the managers, scientists, and communities in those countries. For example, the fund is partially supporting the efforts of the Bangladesh Forest Department and the University of Minnesota to develop a cooperative scientific approach to tiger assessment in the Sundarban River swamp. This swamp is formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers just before their waters enter the Bay of Bengal. It is believed to be home to one of the largest remaining tiger populations and, due to twice-a-day tidal inundation, a unique habitat in which the tiger resides.

African Elephant Conservation Fund African elephants face a variety of challenges. In many areas, they are hunted illegally for ivory and bushmeat. In other places, due to their increased numbers in confined protected areas, they damage their environment and conflict with local human populations. Most African countries lack the financial resources to adequately conserve and manage elephants. Thus, building the capacity to provide trained and equipped personnel to resolve elephant conservation issues is important. This fund is currently supporting the Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by furnishing equipment and training to improve the effectiveness and safety of anti-poaching teams who protect the park's elephant and unique northern white rhino populations.

Asian Elephant Conservation Fund Asian elephants share a land mass with some of the largest human populations in the world, and habitat loss is the single greatest threat to the survival of these animals. Their geographic range has declined approximately 70 percent since the 1960s. Only 35,000 to 45,000 Asian elephants survive in the wild. To help protect Asian elephants in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains, the largest elephant range in Cambodia, the fund has supported law enforcement training, patrolling, and elephant monitoring efforts of some 30 government rangers and 15 community-based wildlife population monitors. Although, after 30 years of war and civil unrest in Cambodia, the Cardamom Mountains are now home to only 200 to 300 elephants, we believe that the habitat, with protection, could easily support several thousand.

Great Ape Conservation Fund Apes are, by their biological nature, extremely vulnerable species. They form complex social groupings, grow relatively slowly, and have low reproductive rates. Great apes were once protected by the isolation of densely forested and mostly unexplored habitats. Now they experience increased pressure from human populations that invade and change their world. Roads built by logging and mining companies give hunters and slash-and-burn farmers access to once remote forests. Increasing human populations demand more from the forest: land for cultivation, valuable tropical timber species, diamonds, gold, and, most devastating for forest wildlife, bushmeat. This fund assists in the conservation and protection of five groups of primates: chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons. Among other projects, it supports the International Gorilla Conservation Ranger-based Monitoring Program that protects mountain gorillas in the Albertine Rift of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Marine Turtle Conservation Fund All marine turtles in the world are listed under the Endangered Species Act and six of the seven species are considered imperiled by the World Conservation Union. Once abundant, marine turtle populations in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans are a fraction of their levels prior to human over-exploitation. Because marine turtles are highly migratory and far ranging species, successful conservation requires long term efforts and close cooperation among countries sharing the same oceans. The Marine Turtle Conservation Act, signed into law in 2004, established a dedicated fund administered by the Service to support a range of conservation efforts protecting nesting populations and beaches in foreign countries.

The conservation of Appendix-I species is of global concern, and action needed goes beyond the scope of CITES. Broad international and domestic efforts in many countries are required to ensure these highly vulnerable species survive.

One of the most complex aspects of trade in tigers and rhinos is their continued use in traditional Asian medicine, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Tiger bone is used to treat arthritis and muscular atrophy, and rhino horn to treat fevers, convulsions, and delirium. In 1997, CITES countries adopted measures to protect endangered species used in Asian medicines and to avoid other species becoming over-exploited. Countries were asked to work closely with traditional medicine practitioners and consumers in developing public education and awareness programs, and to investigate the use of sustainable alternatives. In the U.S., that effort is mandated by the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act.

Maggie Tieger is a Policy Special Assistant in the Division of Management Authority in the Service's International Affairs Program in Arlington, Virginia (maggie_tieger@fws.gov) Information on the conservation funds for this article was provided by staff in the Division of International Conservation in the Service's International Affairs Program in Arlington, Virginia (Fred Bagley, Richard Ruggiero, and Karl Stromayer).
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Author:Tieger, Maggie
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:1139
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