Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2005

Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007
Background Information and Species Profiles
The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007, H.R. 1464 / S. 1033, would authorize the
Multinational Species Conservation Fund to support conservation of a new set of rare foreign
species. This bill would establish within the Multinational Species Conservation Fund a separate
account to be known as the “Great Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Fund,” that would provide
financial resources for conservation programs benefiting rare felid and canid populations in
nations outside of North America.
The Great Cats and Rare Canids Bill would identify seven felid and six canid species that are
recognized as endangered or threatened populations by the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA),
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),
and/or the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.
Great cat and
rare canine
species are
by a variety of
threats that
affect wildlife
habitat loss
disease, and
pollution. In
addition to
these ongoing issues,
there are a number of threats that impact wild cats and canines disproportionately such as
wildlife-human conflict, exploitations for skins, the Asian medicinal trade, and persecution based
upon negative perceptions and mythology surrounding the character of carnivores.
The purpose of this bill is to assist in the conservation of felid and canid populations worldwide
and to provide financial resources and to foster international cooperation for those initiatives.
Conservation of rare felids and canid populations requires global commitment. Adequate funding
is sorely lacking in many countries that do not have adequate infrastructure to protect species of
concern, and those that do provide assistance to threatened populations need further assistance
in implementing effective conservation strategies.
Currently, tigers are the only carnivore species currently receiving support through the
Multinational Species Conservation Fund. The intention of The Great Cats and Rare Canids
Conservation Fund would not be to siphon funding reserved for tiger conservation, nor should
money be appropriated from other existing Multinational Species Conservation Funds. The Great
Cats and Rare Canids Conservation Fund would instead create an entirely new fund to be treated
as an addition to the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, not as a subdivision of existing
The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007
Species Profiles
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Cheetahs are
distributed primarily throughout the drier parts of
sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Iran. The
principle threat to cheetahs has long been
recognized to be a very high level of
homogeneity in coding DNA, which may render
the cheetah an exceptionally vulnerable
species. The cheetah is also vulnerable to
competition with other large carnivores for
habitat and prey. Survival is also affected by
conflicts with people over predation on
Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) The
clouded leopard is found in the forests of Asia.
Deforestation and habitat fragmentation are the
foremost threats. Secondly, the clouded leopard
is widely hunted for its teeth and decorative
pelt, and for bones for the traditional Asian
medicinal trade.
Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardina) The Iberian lynx
is considered the most endangered cat species
in the world due to its low total numbers, the
fragmentation and the availability of habitat, and
small geographic range limited to Spain and
Portugal. Population decline has been due to
the spread of a disease which decimated
populations of the European rabbit, the lynx's main prey. Additional factors in the lynx's decline
include illegal hunting, accidental killing by snares and poison baits, and road kill.
Jaguar (Panthera onca) Jaguars are distributed in regions throughout Central and South
America, with key populations in the Yucatan peninsula as well as the Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia
and Paraguay. Principal threats include deforestation rates and fragmentation of forest habitat, as
well as local extirpation at the hands of cattle ranchers.
Leopard (Panthera pardus) The leopard’s range is widespread, ranging throughout the Africa,
the Middle East, India, and into southeast Asia. The leopard appears to be very successful at
adapting to altered natural habitat and settled environments in the absence of intense
persecution. Although the leopard populations are not endangered throughout this entire range,
many threats affect the future of these populations including exploitation, population
fragmentation, and loss of habitat.
Lion (Panthera leo) East and Southern Africa are home to the majority of the African lion
population, with a second isolated population of lions residing in the Gir forest of India. Lions are
generally considered serious problem animals whose existence is at odds with human settlement
and cattle culture. Their scavenging behavior makes them particularly vulnerable to poisoned
carcasses put out
to eliminate
predators. Each
year people are
killed by lions, and
the level of
conflict is high.
Snow Leopard
(Uncia uncia) The
snow leopard has
an extremely
patchy and
consisting of a mix
of mountain
throughout a vast
region in Tibet and other parts of China. Threats to this population include habitat fragmentation,
diminished prey base, hunting and poisoning programs intended for other animals, as well as
conflict with local villages due to livestock depredation. There is demand for snow leopard bones
for use in the Chinese medicinal trade, and there is still some demand for snow leopard fur on the
black market.
African Wild Dog
(Lycaon pictus) The
African Wild Dog is one of
the Africa’s most
endangered animals. It is
believed that fewer than
5,000 wild dogs currently
exist in the wild, and their
range has declined
significantly. The effects
of diseases spread by
domestic dogs have had a
devastating effect on wild
dog numbers. Habitat
fragmentation has lead to
the isolation of
populations which has
lead to inbreeding and
associated problems.
Bush Dog (Speothos
venaticus) Rare
throughout its entire range in the jungles of South America, the bush dog is the most social of the
small canids, living in groups of up to 10 individuals. Populations of bush dogs continue to
decline as their natural habitat is converted to human use for farming and other development.
Dhole (Cuon alpinus) The dhole is a rare species of wild dog native to southern Asia. Unlike
other endangered canids, the dhole is not widely recognized and has received very little attention,
even though its population is threatened with extinction. The major threats to the dhole are habitat
destruction, loss off a prey base, human persecution, disease and inbreeding.
Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) The Ethiopian wolf population is critically endangered
throughout its range, with a global population estimated at 400 adults confined to five isolated
pockets in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian wolf is a very localized endemic species, and very sensitive to
pressures such as inbreeding, disease, hunting, and habitat loss.
Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) A native resident of the grasslands regions of South
America, the maned wolf is endangered throughout its home range. The maned wolf’s survival in
the wild is threatened by a number of factors, including hunting, conflict with ranchers, and habitat
loss. There is also a demand for several parts of the wolf’s anatomy, which are used for
traditional medicinal remedies.
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) The gray wolf occupies a large geographic range in Europe, Middle
East and Asia. Threats include competition with humans for livestock, misunderstanding on the
part of the public concerning the threat and danger of wolves, clearance and fragmentation of
habitat, and hybridization with domestic and feral dogs.