International Conservation
Reef Shark, © Ed Gullekson

International Conservation 101

While Defenders of Wildlife is primarily focused on conserving species native to the United States, our work doesn’t stop at the country’s borders.

Thousands of at-risk plants and animals that live and migrate outside the United States are affected by our collective actions as Americans. And many of these species are facing serious threats to their survival, primarily due to trade (domestic and international, legal and illegal) and habitat destruction.

U.S. laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and American Bird Conservation Act, offer some protections, but they can’t help when the animals are being traded by people in other countries. That’s why Defenders of Wildlife’s International Conservation team is fighting for imperiled sharks, parrots, frogs, sea turtles, mangrove forests (which are important ecosystems for many of these animals) and other species.

What Defenders Is Doing to Help

Defenders is working to protect species around the world on many fronts, including:

  • Petitioning to gain protections for endangered or potentially endangered species and create natural protected areas under existing international laws
  • Lobbying for domestic and international laws that promote the protection of wildlife and habitats in Latin America, especially in Mexico
  • Educating the public in various ways, including creating storybooks and comic books for all ages, distributing classroom kits for teachers, organizing training workshops and acting as media spokespeople

Participating in international environmental convention meetings like the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and many others.

More on International Conservation: A Special Focus on Mexico »

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Sea Turtle, © Christina Albright-Mundy
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April, 2013: Thanks to new regulations that Defenders proposed and worked hard to promote, Mexico is protecting vital sea turtle nesting habitat.
scalloped hammerhead, © Terry Goss 2008/Marine Photobank
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September 2014 - Five species of shark and two species of manta ray have officially gained international protection!
Scarlet macaw, © Maria Elena Sanchez
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July 2014 - After being wiped out from the region more than 50 years ago, scarlet macaws are once again flying free in the Gulf of Mexico!