HEARING ON Elephant Conservation
November 3, 1997

Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing on Elephant Conservation. We have before us a very straightforward reauthorization of the very successful African Elephant Conservation Act, and a bill to try to emulate that success with the Asian Elephant.

These two foreign species will benefit from the conservation aspects of legislation that we pass here in the United States. The interest of Americans in the international aspects of species management is not new.

The Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, one of the predecessors to the current Endangered Species Act, authorized a list of species and subspecies of fish and wildlife "threatened with worldwide extinction."

In addition, in the Endangered Species Conservation Act, the Secretary was instructed to encourage foreign governments to provide protection to endangered wildlife; to take measures to prevent any fish or wildlife from becoming endangered; to provide technical assistance to foreign governments; and to encourage treaties for wildlife protection.

The Endangered Species Conservation Act also resulted in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which then resulted in the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

We are currently engaged in a debate to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act. Senators Chafee, Baucus, Reid and I have put forward S. 1180, the Endangered Species Recovery Act to reform the 1973 Act in a meaningful way so that we will in fact recover species and bring them back to an abundance so that they no longer need the protection of the Federal Act.

Yet, throughout our debates on the ESA, we were unable to spend much time on the very real international issues that have been brought to our attention in the administration of CITES. During our 1995 hearing on the ESA, we heard from witnesses on the effect of our actions here in the United States on other nation's ability to determine their own sustainable future.

For that reason, I continue to propose that we should have a different authorization schedule for CITES and international conservation issues under the ESA. I believe that we must deal with the international issues brought to our attention without the overwhelming need to reauthorize ESA at the same time.

Beyond my goal of establishing a staggered reauthorization for CITES, I plan to move forward with oversight hearings on CITES and international conservation next year. For example, CITES, as its name implies, is clearly limited to matters of international trade. A comprehensive treaty on the conservation of internationally endangered species as contemplated by the Congress in 1969 does not yet exist.

Which brings us to the two very important international conservation issues we are considering today: reauthorization of the African Elephant Act and writing an Asian Elephant Act. Until we can accomplish a comprehensive program of international conservation, we must continue to do this kind of species-by-species legislation.

We now have nearly ten years of experience with the African Elephant Conservation Act and the and that it establishes. I believe that the African Elephant Act is an example and a model for conservation in other countries. And I believe it is worthy of emulation for the Asian Elephant.

One additional word, if I may Mr. Chairman, on the success of the African Elephant Act. One of the reasons it has been so successful is that it respects the needs of the people and the governments in the countries where the African Elephant exists in the wild.

Our involvement in the conservation of the African Elephant has been to provide technical assistance to foreign governments, and to encourage local actions for wildlife protection. Through the African Elephant Act, CITES and other international programs we have provided a number of different management tools and techniques to encourage sustainable conservation. I will vigorously oppose any efforts to limit our technical assistance through the banning of any scientifically accepted management strategy.

Thank you for holding this hearing, Mr. Chairman.