The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) applauded Thursday’s Senate introduction of legislation that would renew the Save Vanishing Species postage stamp for an additional four years.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act in the Senate, joining companion legislation in the House introduced by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) that has already attracted 37 bipartisan co-sponsors.
The wildlife stamp’s first sixteen months qualify as a major success, as 18.1 million tiger stamps have sold since it was unveiled in September of 2011, generating $1.89 million for species conservation programs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has begun granting out the funds brought in by the stamp to global conservation projects.
While sales are brisk, the wildlife stamp is still at risk to join its beneficiaries as “endangered”: if Congress does not take action, the stamp will cease after another year.
“We have seen the way that the stamp has galvanized support for conservation among the American people over the past year,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “I thank Sens. Portman and Udall and Rep. Grimm for their leadership in introducing this bill, and I urge Congress to prevent the extinction of this fiscally responsible funding source for the world’s most iconic species by reauthorizing the stamp for another four years.”
The wildlife stamp features an illustration of a tiger cub and supports efforts to save species like elephants, tigers, and great apes through FWS’s Multinational Conservation Species Funds (MSCF) at no cost to taxpayers. Because the stamp allows citizens to contribute directly to the FWS conservation programs through the purchase of the stamps, an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bill’s implementation “would have no significant discretionary cost to the Federal government.”
“As Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy reminds us, it is important that we preserve our nation’s wildlife and natural resources for future generations to enjoy. Reauthorizing this stamp program to fund conservation programs at no cost to the taxpayer is one small step toward this goal, and I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will agree to continue this successful program for four more years,”commented Portman.
In addition, Sen. Udall stated, “The Multinational Species stamp allows individuals to easily and voluntarily contribute to conservation efforts with the simple act of mailing a letter. With this stamp, almost $2 million has already been raised for important wildlife programs, which shows that it's an effective effort that should be extended."
The Save Vanishing Species stamp was created by act of Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010. It went on sale in September 2011 and more than 18.1 million have been sold since then. The tiger stamps are now available at Post Office locations nationwide and online at shop.usps.com or tigerstamp.com. They cost 10 cents greater than a First Class Mail stamp — 56 cents — and $11.20 for a sheet of 20. Also available is a special commemorative notecard set featuring the stamp’s image.
Since 1989, Multinational Species Conservation Funds has awarded over 2,200 grants in more than 75 countries through all its grant programs for international wildlife conservation, targeting key species and regions in coordination with non-governmental organizations, government and community leaders, and private businesses to ensure the protection of some of the world’s most endangered and charismatic animals. These funds have a history of leveraging three to four dollars for every dollar invested. MSCF enjoys the support of a broad coalition including conservation organizations, zoos, aquariums, circuses, sportsmen, veterinarians and animal rights groups.
In the meantime, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists have confirmed that Gabon's Minkebe Park, once home to Africa's largest forest elephant population, has lost a staggering 11,100 elephants due to ivory poaching since 2004.
This population survey, conducted with our partners in Gabon, is just the latest in a string of grim news on the state of elephants. Some reports have estimated that as many as 30,000 elephants died just last year at the hands of poachers.
Less than 6 months ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton responded by making illegal wildlife trafficking a State Department priority (see http://www.examiner.com/article/clinton-declares-war-on-illegal-wildlife...). It is now hoped that her successor, Secreatry John Kerry will continue to make the poaching crisis a top priority of the State Department until this horrific wildlife slaughter is stopped.