Wild Cats overview

Trade bans can work. In the short term, they can provide breathing space for species in sudden and immediate danger, so that the drivers of trade can be identified and remedial actions implemented.

This can be the case where the volume of trade is so large and the velocity so high that a trade ban is appropriate through application of the Precautionary Principle, which requires erring on the conservative side when making a decision to decrease protection [1,7]. A ban may give the population time to recover, yet trade bans can also backfire, meaning they may have worse outcomes than being ineffective or causing inefficient allocation of resources. A sharp increase in poaching and rise in commercial value may coincide with their implementation (or even announcement thereof) [8, 11]. When a “Perfect Storm” exists, a trade ban may be the final blow to an endangered species. Three species, the tiger, elephant and rhino, illustrate this situation.

The tiger, Panthera tigris, is listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [12]. Comparing today’s wild tiger populations with those two tiger generations ago in the 1990’s suggests a decline of over 50% [12]. The breeding population, considered to be a key indicator of the health of the species, has declined by more than 20% during the last two tiger generations, and this decline may not be reversible [12]. Three of the original eight sub-species have gone extinct since the 1950s, and it is thought that a fourth is also extinct [12,13]. All tiger sub-species were listed on Appendix I in 1975, with the exception of the Amur tiger, which was listed in 1989.

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Conservation Influencers

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Wildlife Conservation Society

In 1906, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put an African man on display in Bronx Zoo’s Monkey House. In 1918, one of WCS’s founding fathers, Madison Grant, published Passing of the Great Race, which Adolf Hitler referred to as his ‘Bible’. Another leading creator and early leader of WCS, Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr, was also a founder of the American Eugenics Society. His son headed WCS from 1940 to 1968, overseeing a series of major initiatives in Africa. There, WCS became one of the architects of the prohibition movement, which put wildlife for consumptive use and vast regions of land out of bounds to humanity. In 2020, WCS distanced itself in public from the racist views of Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn Sr. But it has yet to issue a critical account of the legacy of Fairfield Osborn Jr, even though he led WCS into the modern era while sharing similar politically-inspired ecological goals to his father and Grant. WCS devotes considerable financial resources to influencing outcomes at CITES. WCS’s CEO reportedly earns USD$1,320,978.

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