What Is The Endangered Species Act?
It might seem self explanatory given the name, but the ESA (US Endangered Species Act) was designed to protect critically endangered or threatened wildlife. Based in the United States, the law was passed on the 28th of December 1973 by President Richard Nixon. This act is administered by two official federal agencies, the FWS and NMFS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, respectively). This act covers species of fauna and flora across the globe listed as endangered.
An endangered species is defined as a species which is in on the brink of extinction, throughout all or a significantly large portion of it. A threatened species is a species which is close to becoming endangered in the foreseeable future. The call to action was first promoted by the harmful human activity that was damaging the globe. Numerous selfish actions from corporations and communities caused wildlife to be demolished; habitat loss was rising, as the need for hunting and extracting natural resources became higher.
Registry and Measurements
Any individual or organization can begin a petition to list a species under the Endangered Species Act. In order (to attempt) to prevent extinction of a certain creature, or element of wildlife, the species must meet at least one of five specific criteria:
1. There is the present or threatened alterations or destruction of its habitat.
2. An over utilization for commercial, educational, recreational or scientific purposes.
3. The species is declining due to disease.
4. There is an inadequacy of existing regulatory systems implemented.
5. There are further manmade or natural factors affecting its prolonged existence.
Just as humans are managed for organ donation in healthcare, the wildlife at risk is first registered and then assessed. After assessment they will be categorized and prioritized, allowing the necessary organizations to begin brainstorming recovery plans. Plans for protecting endangered species mainly include; authorizing funds for carrying out conservation efforts, passing laws to prohibit harvesting or trading in certain regions, and monitoring species in the wild or captivity. Many animals will benefit from captive breeding, where they can be observed, cared for properly and eventually encouraged to pro-create.
Giving species the opportunity to bounce back is a time consuming responsibility that doesn't just happen overnight. The process almost always progresses positively, yet gradually over a number of years. This requires administrations to be attentive, compassionate and dedicated to the cause for each and every registered creature or plant life. The success rate of recovery will depend on many factors such as nutrition/food availability, climate change, reproduction rates, and the quality of the surrounding habitat. The longer a species continues to be listed, the more likely it is to recover.
Every species listed on the Endangered Species Act will be kept under surveillance, to track whether or not the species is progressing with the devices that have been put in place. Amazingly, to date there is a 99% success rate with the ESA - almost every species ever listed on the record has avoided extinction. This makes the ESA the highest standard of conservation legislation in the world.
Just some of the species registered on the ESA list are the Asian Elephant, Tigers and the Giant Panda. Elephants have been threatened for a very long time; they are hunted for their ivory and various other body parts which are all distributed around the world in illegal trading. The trading has been banned thanks to the ESA, however they are still classified as endangered. Tigers are also poached illegally, but there is still hope. This endangered species is slowly recovering, with WWF reporting in 2016 that the population is growing for the first time in decades! Nevertheless, there is less than 4000 tigers found in the wild in 2019. Giant Pandas are another species on the endangered yet recovering list, with a mere 1800 remaining. The ESA strictly requires that fees paid to China, in order to rent Pandas for US zoos, contribute to the recovery of pandas in the wild.
Speaking of the world, the ESA supports the conservation of species that exist outside of the US too. Due to the influential success of the ESA, other countries around the world have taken a leaf out of the US's book and attempted to mimic the guidelines of the legislation for their own native wildlife. Acts such as CITES and the Biodiversity Conservation Act (2016) are additional standing conservation acts existing in the world today.
What Is CITES?
First drafted in 1963, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a US based international agreement between governments, that aims to ensure that the international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Hundreds of millions of animals and plants are traded each year in the international wildlife trading market. Diverse trades include a massive range of products from leather goods and fur coats to musical instruments. Because the trading crosses between borders across many different countries, the efforts must be international. The cooperation put in place is to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. Many species of this act are not endangered, but the legislations put in place support the continuation of domestic areas for them. Thus, lowering the overall quantity of endangered animals and growing global species protection to a broader scale.
What Is The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016?
The BC Act is a land management conservation act from Australia, which protects our biodiversity by regulating developmental activities on land. It applies attention to the environment and how it is managed, in order to monitor how the developments effect the territory. A framework is implemented by the government to support the 'Saving our Species' movement. $100 million has been designated over a five year period to commit to helping the threatened animals and plant species whilst the monitoring of land management and biodiversity is tracked.
Challenges With The ESA Conservation Today
Unfortunately, recent news has discovered that the Trump administration has made alterations to the way in which the Endangered Species Act is applied. The new rules basically mean that now, it is much easier to remove a species from the endangered list than in previous years. Protections put in place to support threatened species are also damaged, as now they are much weaker. This will (more than likely), severely increase the risk of extinction in countless species across the US.
Like never before, the now weakened conservation laws allow the conduction of economic assessments. In layman's terms, this claims that before an area of land can be protected, you must asses the potential loss of revenue from any businesses or organisations in that area. Whether a species demands protection or not, will be weighed against this economic factor. This disheartening decision will pave the way for more oil and gas drilling, as well as mining in areas where protected species currently live.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been noticed to comment that these new changes will support the longevity of the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and others. The future is yet to be determined from these actions, however what we do know is that the best results are made when we are given the most time possible. The dangers posed by climate change and other threats that are decades away require constant scrutiny and management. These are all factors that should be considered unselfishly when making changes to environmental laws and conservation acts, no matter where they are concentrated.
If you have any questions about conservation acts or endangered species, please feel free to contact our team here at Rainforest Cruises. Alternatively, if there are any topics you would like to see in our Jungle Blog, please send us an enquiry or call us on 1-888-215-3555and let us know - we will do our best to address your personal requests.