Conservation Influencers

Defenders of Wildlife

USA

Defenders of Wildlife was founded in 1947 to protect and restore threatened species and their habitats in North America. However it also takes a keen interest in the listing of all types of species in CITES’ appendices.

At CoP-18 Defenders of Wildlife supported successful calls to list mako sharks in appendix II. Since then it is has been petitioning the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect the shortfin mako shark under auspices of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But Defenders of Wildlife’s factsheet about mako sharks fails to mention that there are still in excess of 20 million, up-to four-meter long, mako sharks swimming in the oceans.

Defenders of Wildlife is supposedly neutral when it comes to opposing or supporting trophy hunting. But in 2017, when the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) created an International Wildlife Conservation Council to support the sport trophy industry, Defenders of Wildlife condemned the move as ‘myopic’. Instead it argued that the DOI should ‘preserve habitat, protect imperilled species, combat wildlife trafficking and promote non-consumptive ways to enjoy wildlife’. For example photo-tourism.

Grand View Outdoors lists Defenders of Wildlife as one of the top ten anti-hunting organisations in the USA.

Today, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading forces behind the SAVE Right Whales Act, a bill that was drafted to fund research into new technologies designed to avoid entanglement of whales in the lobster industry’s nets and to reduce whale collisions with ships at sea. 

Leadership

Jamie Rappaport Clark, President & CEO 

Governance

Twelve-strong Board chaired by Judith Posnikoff, founder and managing director of the hedge fund Martlet Asset Management, LLC. Defenders of Wildlife claims to have 425,000 members but none of them – including those in President’s Circle who pay $50,000 – $99,999 to join – are allowed a vote or given a stake in the management of its affairs.

Finances

According to Defenders of Wildlife’s annual report, in 2019 more than 1.8 million of its members and supporters contributed more than USD38 million for wildlife and wildlife habitat. In 2019 its annual revenue was USD38 million, and its expenses were USD37.952 million.

About the directory

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.

Featured

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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