Wildlife Without Borders

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders programs promote, facilitate, and support vital conservation efforts across the globe in order to preserve the planet’s rich diversity of wildlife for all the citizens of Earth and for generations to come.

U.S. Crushes Seized Ivory, Taking A Stand Against Illegal Ivory Trade

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Credit: USFWS

In November 2013, USFWS destroyed six tons of elephant ivory seized over the last 25 years by its special agents and inspectors due to violations of U.S. wildlife laws and treaties. With up to 35,000 elephants killed in 2013 for the illegal ivory trade, the Ivory Crush sent a message to traffickers and their customers that the United States will not tolerate this illegal trade. (read more)

The United States stands with other nations that have destroyed their illegal ivory and demonstrated their commitment to saving elephants. The U.S. Ivory Crush was a catalyst for similar actions— China, , France and Chad destroyed confiscated ivory in early 2014, and other governments have announced their intention to follow suit. (read less)

Learn more about the U.S. Ivory Crush.

Wildlife Without Borders Grant Programs Award Millions for Conservation Efforts Around the World

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Credit: USFWS

Through the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, USFWS Species Programs awarded over $10 million in 2013 to help conserve elephants, rhinos, tigers, great apes and marine turtles. This amount was leveraged by an addition $16 million in matching and in-kind funds. (read more)

This funding supported 183 conservation projects around the world. The Regional Programs, working in Africa, Eurasia and South America, also awarded over $10 million in funds with an additional $13 million in leveraged matching contributions. Together these funds supported over 250 projects. (read less)

Learn more about the Wildlife Without Borders Species Programs and Regional Programs.

The Sixteenth Meeting to the Conference of the Parties to CITES Marks A Milestone for Conservation

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Credit: © Brian Skerry

In March 2013, the 40th Anniversary of CITES, U.S. delegates traveled to Bangkok, Thailand for CITES CoP16. After two weeks of meetings, the United States celebrated the successful passage of several proposals it sponsored, cosponsored or supported. (read more)

CoP16 passed proposals to increase protection for elephants, rhinos, sharks, manta rays, freshwater turtles and tortoises and several timber species. In addition to these species proposals, CoP16 resulted in a musical instrument “passport” program for traveling musicians as well as clearer and stronger implementation of particular CITES regulations. (read less)

Click here to watch a short video on CoP16 successes.

USFWS' MENTOR-FOREST Program Trains Emerging African Conservationists

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Credit: PCI Media Impact/Sean Southey

USFWS’ MENTOR Signature Initiative (Mentoring for ENvironmental Training in Outreach and Resource conservation) builds trans-disciplinary teams of emerging African conservationists through mentoring, experiential learning, and academic and field-based training programs. (read more)

MENTOR-FOREST (FOrest Research Ecology and Stewardship Training), launched in April 2012 and implemented over an 18-month period, constitutes the second MENTOR program. In collaboration with Gabon’s national parks agency, Agence Nationale de Parcs Nationaux, or ANPN, USFWS supported Gabonese and U.S. government and academic partners to develop the capacity of a team of nine Central African conservationists (from Gabon and Republic of Congo) to mitigate the negative impacts of extractive industries on wildlife and to support a new forest stewardship model in the Congo Basin. Graduating with the first Master’s Degree in Biodiversity and Forest Conservation and Management at Gabon’s National School of Forestry, Ecole des Eaux et des Forêts (ENEF), the MENTOR-FOREST fellows drafted and tested best practice guidelines and environmental auditing tools for extractive industries and tourism. These tools are now being used by ANPN’s Environmental Evaluation and Compliance Division.(read less)

Learn more about MENTOR-FOREST.

Lemon Trees Help Reduce Human-Elephant Conflict and Improve Local Livelihoods in India

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Credit: Bibhuti Lakhar

Asian Elephants are often killed in retaliation for raiding village crops and destroying local homes. With support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders - Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, local villagers in Manas, India have begun to plant lemon trees around their homes to serve as an effective deterrent to foraging Asian elephants. (read more)

In addition, lemons sell for a significantly higher price than traditional rice crops and local farmers have begun converting rice plantations into lemon cultivation yielding a fivefold increase in income for the individual farmers. The project has also helped farmers gain access to local wholesale markets and has linked the farmers to food preservation units led by women's self-help groups for making pickles and squashes. Furthermore, the project has set-up a lemon nursery around Manas so that farmers can purchase lemon saplings for a marginal price to increase their yield and productivity. (read less)

Learn more about the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund.

From 10 to 100: The Bali Starling Success Story

Pair of Bali starlings released from captavity. Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

The Bali Starling, the official emblem and mascot of the island of Bali, Indonesia, was nearly extinct with fewer than 10 birds in existence less than seven years ago. These birds are poached for the caged bird market and sold for more than $1,000 per bird on the black market. A single Bali Starling is worth more than the average Indonesian’s salary. In 2006, Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNFP) rehabilitated and released 64 Bali Starlings, which came from two pairs bred by the Begawan Foundation. (read more)

In order to increase the genetic diversity of these birds, FNFP requested support from the Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Fund to introduce 10 rehabilitated starlings to Nusa Penida, an island where a sanctuary was created by the FNFP to save the birds in collaboration with the local communities. The local population has played an essential role in helping to protect the endangered birds from poachers. This reintroduction will also increase the genetic diversity of the bird population – just one step towards increasing the viability of the species.

Dr. I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha, Director of FNFP, said that while it is too early to observe the offspring of the 10 released Bali Starlings, the possibility that the population will increase is high. “Amongst the ten birds that we released, all marked with a different color of plastic band, seven are always found,” he said. “Two amongst them have already paired up and are displaying their breeding behavior.” He also said that they successfully released the bird at a temple, where it is monitored. “In the Balinese tradition, [there is] quite a strong respect to any item that [is] considered sacred,” he said. “So, offering the bird to God before the release make[s] the bird become [a] sacred item, and give[s] another layer of protection for the bird as it is not only against government regulation and traditional regulation to take the bird from the wild, but also against God’s will.”

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Learn more about the Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Fund supported by USFWS.

Technical Assistance and Training Leads to Increase in Cross River Gorilla Numbers

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Credit: Nyango

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders - Great Ape Conservation Fund is a primary funder for many great ape conservation projects and the only significant international funding source for the Cross River gorilla. Highly imperiled species of great apes such as the Cross River gorilla, with less than 300 individuals remaining, could be extinct in less than five years without this direct assistance. (read more)

Through effective support for government and community-based law enforcement in the Cross River gorilla habitat of Cameroon and Nigeria, there has been a reduction of illegal poaching incidents by 10 percent, preventing an estimated loss of 30 gorillas per year. In addition, USFWS is working closely with local communities, NGOs, and the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon on the development of a five year Cross River gorilla conservation plan to ensure the survival of the gorilla in its native habitat. (read less)

Learn more about the Great Ape Conservation Fund

International Wildlife Trade

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s International Wildlife Trade program is responsible for coordinating U.S. efforts related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including preparing documents and developing U.S. negotiating positions for meetings of the CITES Conference of the Parties and committees, and implementing the results of these meetings.

USFWS Celebrates the Success of the "Save the Vanishing Species" Stamp

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Credit: Martin Heigan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

More than 25.5 million stamps have been purchased in the United States by the public online and at their local post offices over the past two years, generating more than $2.5 million to support wildlife conservation initiatives worldwide. (read more)

This money has been used to support 47 projects in 31 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to conserve elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, marine turtles, and great apes. These funds have been leveraged by an additional $3.6 million in matching contributions – making the stamp a key part of the United States’ response to protecting wildlife and addressing the ongoing worldwide epidemic of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Sales of the Save Vanishing Species Stamp were stopped on December 31, 2013 and the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking recommends reauthorization for the stamp. (read less)

Learn more about the stamp.

President Obama Signs Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking

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Credit: Lindsay Maizland CC BY 2.0

On July 1, 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order (E.O.) emphasizing the United States’ commitment to fighting illegal wildlife trade and elevating an issue that we care deeply about to the highest levels of government. (read more)

The E.O. enhances coordination of U.S. efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and assists other nations in tackling this issue by providing capacity building and on-the-ground support. The E.O. also established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking charged with developing a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, and an Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking with representation from the private sector, former government officials, non-governmental organizations, and other experts on wildlife trade. (read less)

Learn more about the Executive Order.

Wildlife Without Borders Building Conservation Leaders Through Grant Programs

Pair of Bali starlings released from captavity. Credit: USFWS

Credit: Heather Thorkelson CC BY-ND 2.0

In 2013, the EAGLE network, based in Cameroon, was founded to coordinate and strengthen the activities of law enforcement groups fighting wildlife crime. Operating in six countries, the EAGLE network has brought about more than 900 arrests, prosecutions and imprisonments of wildlife traffickers. It has been instrumental in clamping down on criminal syndicates in Central and West Africa. USFWS has provided vital support to some of these law enforcement groups since their inception. We’re excited to see their important work continue in 2014.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Supports First Major Assessment of Asian Snakes


Credit: Jeff Whitlock CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

and regulation of turtle harvest, conservation and monitoring of turtle populations, and law enforcement to ensure that illegal harvest and trade are controlled.  The International Wildlife Trade program will continue to work with the State wildlife agencies and others to ensure that these recommendations are implemented and that the conservation of our native turtles is secured. (read less)

On June 19th, 2012, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added 384 Asian snake species to its Red List of Threatened Species, the most comprehensive information source on the status of plant and animal species worldwide. An IUCN listing is a critical first step towards conserving a species and developing effective, long-term management tools. These new listings were a direct result of a partnership between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and IUCN. (read more)

In August of 2011, a workshop, funded by the Service’s International Wildlife Trade Program, brought together snake experts from around the world to assess the status of hundreds of Asian snakes, many of which had rarely been studied in the past. This workshop filled an important gap in reptile conservation considering that many of these species are traded in large numbers but little is known about their status in the wild. The workshop also marked the first-ever joint document submission to CITES between the United States and China. (read less)

To learn more read the Service’s press release.

Division of Scientific Authority Conducts Nautilus Research and Initiates Youth Action


Credit: USFWS

The chambered nautilus is found in the waters of Southeast Asia and Australia. Just how many of them are in existence, however, is uncertain. Because of how little is known about this mollusk, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the National Marine Fisheries Service, is conducting research to better understand the nautilus' status in the wild and the effects that increased harvesting are having on the species. Part of this research was presented at a meeting in Dijon, France on cephalopods. (read more)

After reading about this conservation meeting and ongoing research on the chambered nautilus, 10-year-old Josiah Utsch decided to help the cause. The chambered nautilus is Josiah’s favorite animal and in an effort to save it, he created a website and nonprofit to raise funds for further research and conservation efforts. Shortly after his extraordinary efforts, TIME for Kids featured a story about Josiah and his nonprofit. The Service commends Josiah’s efforts and encourages all children to take an interest in the world’s incredible biodiversity and conservation work. (read less)

Read more about this story, visit TIME for Kids. Learn how you can help species like the chambered nautilus, visit our How You Can Help page.

Conservation of Cameroon’s Caecilian Amphibians

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Credit: Joe Milmoe

Cameroon is home to several rare amphibian species, some of which have been studied, while others have been completely overlooked. As a result, the extinction status of most of these species is still unknown. However, what scientists and conservationists do know is that cultivation and the clearing of forest for agriculture are destroying the natural habitat for these amphibians.(read more)

A Cameroon caecilian census is greatly needed in order to implement applicable and effective conservation practices to protect these important species.

In the past decade, techniques have been developed by researchers to survey caecilians by utilizing a combination of local farmers’ knowledge and dedicated digging surveys by field staff. However, these methods are not sufficient to uncover essential knowledge about these caecilians, such as aspects of reproduction, ecology, and biology. “We firmly believe that Cameroon is the ideal place to undertake the first wide-ranging (in terms of geography and taxonomic diversity), concerted project to try and remove caecilians from the ‘data deficient’ categorization,” said Dr. David Gower, a researcher in the department of Zoology at the Natural History Museum in London. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Without Borders – Amphibians in Decline Conservation Fund is offering support to researchers to conduct a complete census of these caecilians in Cameroon in order to identify the most essential conservation efforts, especially regarding habitat restoration in order to protect these fragile species.

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Learn more about the Amphibians in Decline program

Mr. Burns Beaked Toad - No. 1 New Species in 2010, Discovered with Support from USFWS

Whilst on a search for “lost amphibians” species in the Choco rainforests of Western Colombia, scientists surprisingly discovered a new toad species that is highly unusual to say the least. Not only is this amphibian merely 0.7 inches long, this toad also has an unorthodox reproductive cycle: Most toads start off as eggs, then grow into tadpoles, and then become adults. (read more)

The genus Rhinella, also known as Mr. Burns, however, somehow skips the tadpole stage completely. After the eggs are laid, they hatch into full-grown toadlets, a phenomenon that baffled scientists. “Its long pointy snout reminds me off Mr. Burns from The Simpsons television series,” explained Robin Moore, the expedition leader that found the new species. The group is one of the entities of Conservation International, a group dedicated to conserving and discovering new species, in an effort “to ensure a healthy and productive planet for us all.”

The Wildlife Without Borders Amphibians In Decline program is an initiative put in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve endangered amphibians around the world. Mr. Burns discovery was funded through a grant given by this fund. However, this is only one of the many programs funded by the Amphibians In Decline program: In 2011, the USFWS awarded over $700,000 to conservationists in the US, Panama, Kenya, South Africa, India, and Costa Rica, to help them find cures for diseases that are killing amphibians and for research on methods to prevent their extinction. There are a number of amphibians that are vanishing from the face of the earth. It is funds like this that help us conserve and also find new species of amphibians.

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Learn more about the Amphibians in Decline program.