Conservation Influencers

Defenders of Wildlife


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. 


Jamie Rappaport Clark, President & CEO 


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.


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.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.