WASHINGTON (June 20, 2012) — Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Programs approved an FY13 appropriations bill that would slash critical funding for some of the world’s most threatened species, including rhinos, tigers, elephants, great apes, and marine turtles.

The subcommittee mark up of the bill recommends a cut of 21 percent below the FY12 enacted level for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) programs. Among the conservation programs that would be most severely affected are the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), which would be cut by over 50 percent, from $9.98 million to $4.735 million.

Since Congress created the MSCF in 1990, these grant programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have proven to be highly effective, targeted investments that have helped safeguard global priority species, such as tigers and elephants. With assistance from the MSCF, more than 200 implementing partners have worked to control poaching, reduce human‐wildlife conflict, and protect essential habitat. By working with local communities, the programs also improve people’s livelihoods, contribute to local and regional stability, and support U.S. security interests in impoverished regions. Importantly, the dollars granted by the U.S. government for these programs are leveraged to raise funding from other donors, creating a multiplying effect and making them an extremely cost-effective investment.

“The world needs the U.S. government’s leadership on conservation to stem the tide of poaching, habitat loss and other threats to our most cherished species and ensure a future with tigers, elephants and more,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “As much as the current economic environment dictates funding levels, cuts to the Multinational Species Conservation Funds are not cost-effective because of the multiplying effect of this initial investment. We stand united with the conservation community to urge the restoration of full funding for these programs.”

Ginette Hemley, WWF Senior Vice President for Conservation Strategy and Science, said, “We are currently in the midst of a poaching crisis. It is shocking, especially at this moment, that some in Congress would vote to slash funding to save rhinos, elephants and other imperiled species. The illegal killing of rhinos in South Africa has increased 3000% in five years, and ivory poaching across the African continent has soared to a level not seen in decades. The first Multinational Species Conservation Fund programs were authorized by Congress nearly 25 years ago because Americans and their representatives in Congress recognized the important role we need to play in saving these animals for future generations. These highly effective programs have always enjoyed strong, bipartisan support, and we urge our leaders in the House of Representatives to continue to uphold this vital US commitment."

The MSCF is supported by a broad coalition of 33 groups, led by WCS and WWF and including sportsmen, conservation organizations, zoos, aquariums, circuses, animal welfare groups and veterinary associations representing over 20 million Americans.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org.

The World Wildlife Fund is the world’s largest conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, stop the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.