End Trophy Hunting as Conservation Measure

Target: Inger Andersen, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Goal: Stop the dissemination of misleading claims that trophy hunting aids conservation efforts.

Trophy hunting has long been a cruel practice, especially in Africa, where safaris are popular and conservation efforts are difficult to enforce. Some conservation organizations, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) support this disrespect of animal life as a means to an end when it comes to funding conservation. This claim that the continuation of trophy hunting in support of conservation efforts is unsubstantiated, and this practice should be ended.

There is no scientific consensus that the fees paid for trophy hunting have had any appreciable impact on saving the animals that are being hunted. Yet this is the justification by some organizations and hunters for continuing to support this cruel practice: that killing these animals and taking their body parts as a prize somehow promotes their wellbeing. In Tanzania alone, hunting expeditions and game fees brought in $75 million between 2008 and 2011, compared to the $600 million per year needed for conservation programs. Even if all the money is reaching these programs, which some experts say is unlikely in many war-torn areas, it is not nearly enough to justify the cruelty of trophy hunting. The term “trophy” is just a euphemism used in an ethically gray area by those who wish to validate their immoral actions – what reason do hunters have to support animal conservation except to continue hunting?

The U.S. has ceased support of a ban on trophy importation, so opposition in the conservation community is crucial to ending the unethical dismemberment of animals for show. The IUCN should stop encouraging hunters’ behavior with the justification that their cruelty somehow aids conservation efforts. Sign the petition to urge the IUCN to say enough is enough and end the propagation of misleading information regarding trophy hunting as a conservation effort.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Andersen,

In light of the U.S. lifting its ban on trophy importation, animal conservation is more important than ever. How can an organization such as the IUCN claim to conserve nature while supporting trophy hunting for conservation? With no scientific consensus supporting this idea, it is concerning that this information is being propagated from a leader of the conservation community to justify the mistreatment of animals with their dismemberment as a prize.

It is not clear that all of the proceeds from hunting expeditions and game fees go to conservation programs, especially in war-torn regions such as Africa. Even if 100% of the money went towards these efforts, in many cases it is not nearly enough to offset what is required to sustain conservation programs. At the end of the day, it seems that giving hunters a justification for their actions will only kill the animals off faster, or temporarily prolong populations for future hunting. If hunters are keen on the chase, they can use tranquilizer guns to aid scientific research or tracking of these animals. The blanket approval of trophy hunting in support of conservation leaves no room for more effective and humane alternatives to be explored.

Your organization’s support of this illogical idea is simply confounding. Encouraging trophy hunting for conservation justifies cruel actions by humans against animals and limits innovations regarding conservation alternatives. Its effectiveness is not proven, and even if it was, it should only be used as the very last resort. Please, stop proliferating the idea that trophy hunting aids conservation efforts and support more humane conservation measures.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Derek Keats

Protect African Forest Elephants from Extinction

Target: Senator Richard Shelby, Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee

Goal: Save endangered species whose loss could impact us at home.

African forest elephants are a little-known endangered species that require our protection, yet the Trump administration continues to cut funding for environmental programs, including international conservation efforts. We need to encourage Congress to continue funding important conservation programs in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget in order to continue the protection of species with global significance, such as the African forest elephant.

African forest elephants are a critical component of their rainforest habitat of West and Central Africa, which is one of the largest sources of carbon sequestration on the planet. Herd movement allows for the spread of seeds, and the elephants’ digestive systems are a critical component in the germination of these seeds. They literally keep the rainforest growing and continuing to purge the atmosphere of harmful greenhouse gases. These gentle giants also forge paths for other smaller animals to travel through the rainforest for food, shelter, and mating. The loss of the African forest elephant would be an irreplaceable loss to the plants and animals that depend on them for survival. Habitat loss, poaching, and civil unrest have reduced the range of these herds to a quarter of their historical habitat region. It is estimated that fewer than 100,000 African forest elephants remain, resulting in their “Vulnerable” conservation status, which means they face a high risk of extinction in the wild.

These elephants perform a critical function in their habitat and need protection. The rainforests that depend on the African forest elephant for survival are one of the largest sources of carbon sequestration on Earth. The loss of this species would not only have direct impacts on rainforest biodiversity, but major global impacts related to the control of greenhouse gases. Sign the petition to encourage Congress to continue funding international conservation efforts that are of tremendous importance locally and around the world.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Shelby,

I urge you to reject the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to environmental programs, such as international conservation efforts. Protecting endangered species abroad may not seem important, but I assure you that the loss of these species could impact us from across the globe.

The African forest elephant, for instance, is a little-known species of global importance but is endangered by poaching and habitat loss. The rainforests of West and Central Africa that these elephants inhabit are one of the largest sources for carbon sequestration on the planet, and maintenance of these forests is crucial in the control of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These elephants play a critical role in the rainforests, by dispersing seeds and aiding in the germination of seeds through their digestive systems. Fewer than 100,000 of these elephants are estimated to remain to continue their important function in this rainforest ecosystem.

I strongly support the funding of international conservation programs. It is important to our environment and our wellbeing, even though the issue may be geographically distant. Please, support these programs by passing the Fiscal Year 2019 budget with the same levels in appropriations as in previous years.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Damiano Luchetti