Representatives from the Detroit Tigers baseball club and BBDO joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and Members of Congress and international conservation supporters yesterday on Capitol Hill to celebrate the success of the "Save Vanishing Species" semipostal stamp. Sales of the stamp, which sells at a premium over first class stamps, have generated more than $2.1 million to support on-the-ground conservation of species like the wild tiger since the stamp went on sale in September, 2011. To date 33 conservation projects in 23 countries have been funded with $1.1 million of the stamp proceeds.
The Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp, now available at post offices across the country, gives the public an easy and inexpensive way to benefit wild tigers, rhinos, elephants, great apes and marine turtles around the world. By purchasing the stamps, which feature the image of an Amur tiger cub, at a rate of 55 cents per stamp - just slightly above the cost of first-class postage - the public has directly contributed to on-the-ground conservation efforts overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Without Borders programs.
"The Save Vanishing Species stamp has been an unparalleled triumph for conservation, and it continues to make a real difference for some of our planet's most endangered and iconic wildlife," said Ashe. "Now more than ever, species like wild tigers, rhinos, marine turtles and elephants are under tremendous pressure from poaching, illegal trafficking and the effects of habitat destruction. Stamp sales have provided crucial funding to protect and restore habitat, reduce conflicts with humans, monitor populations and develop real-world solutions to these conservation challenges."
Wild tiger conservation supporters Karie Ross, wife of Tigers President, CEO and General Manager David Dombrowski, and Erica May, fiancé of Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer along with Dombrowski and Scherzer joined Director Ashe for the National Wildlife Refuge Association-supported event. The Tigers organization and its fans began a partnership with the Service last year to raise funds for international tiger conservation. To commence the partnership, the Detroit Tigers donated $26,000 to the Wildlife Without Borders program. The Tigers are also donating proceeds from Pennies for Paws, a coin collection campaign at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. To further support conservation efforts, the Save Vanishing Species tiger stamp will soon be available for purchase in the D Shop at Comerica Park. To date, Tigers fans have helped to raise nearly $53,000 to support tiger conservation projects.
"We are proud to be a partner in the conservation efforts of endangered wild tigers," said Ross, spokeswoman for Pennies for Paws. "With a dwindling wild tiger population, now is the time to take action to save this majestic species - and the Detroit Tigers team namesake."
The Service also partnered with international public relations firm BBDO, which donated significant time and resources to design a successful campaign to raise public awareness of the stamp. The campaign, which included the development and placement of print and multimedia public service announcements, has generated millions of dollars in free advertising for the stamp, helping to spur stamp sales across the nation and internationally. BBDO Vice President Austin Scherer also attended the event to voice his agency's continued support for the stamp and the international conservation efforts it supports.
"BBDO believes that to be a great agency we also have to be a good agency. That's why we enthusiastically embrace noble causes like the Save Vanishing Species stamp for Fish and Wildlife." said BBDO Vice President Austin Scherer. "Wildlife conservation is critical to our ecosystem, and the Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp helps create valuable awareness to encourage funding for these efforts."
A semipostal is a stamp issued for sale at a price above the present first-class postage rate, with additional proceeds supporting a specific cause. The Save Vanishing Species stamp is only the fourth such semipostal stamp to be issued, and the first in the 164-year history of the U.S. Postal Service to raise funds for international wildlife conservation. Proceeds from the sale of the stamp directly benefit the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Save Vanishing Species semipostal will remain on sale through August, 2013, at which time it may be continued.
The MSCF program supports conservation efforts directed at certain endangered species worldwide considered to be of great importance to the American public and authorized by specific legislation. Since 1989, the Wildlife Without Borders-MSCF program has awarded more than 1,800 grants to local communities and conservation groups around the globe.
Among those grant recipients is Fauna & Flora International, which has partnered with the Service and the Burma Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) to conserve two globally threatened primate species found in Burma, the Western Hoolock Gibbon and Eastern Hoolock Gibbon. The groups are using the $50,000 grant to address the immediate and long-term threats and management needs of the Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, which is threatened by the unsustainable extraction of hardwoods for house construction, and the felling of mature trees for fuel wood.
"Fauna & Flora International has had a long history of collaboration as a technical and implementing partner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Without Borders program," said Katie Frohardt, FFI Executive Director. "FFI highly values the infusion of vital supplementary funds from the sale of the semipostal stamp - otherwise unavailable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - which continue to fulfill critical unmet needs for conservation."
The MSCF supports hundreds of other community conservation, anti-poaching and law enforcement initiatives, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, capacity building, sustainable livelihoods, monitoring and evaluation, outreach and education, wildlife health, coalition/partnership-building and protected area management along with a wide variety of other essential conservation activities.
In Russia's remote Siberia region, a $52,000 grant has enabled the Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia Program to institute a pilot program designed to benefit the semipostal stamp's featured species, the critically endangered Amur tiger. Research has demonstrated that mortality rates of Amur tigers are higher wherever there is road access. In the rugged terrain of the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in Primorye, Russia, roads are typically constructed within valleys that serve as travel corridors for the tiger, while also providing important wintering grounds for prey such as red deer, wild boar, and roe deer. Hence, roads have a disproportionate impact on tigers. The grant funded a pilot roads closure study designed to assess the feasibility of closing logging roads on a single timber lease, and to gather scientific evidence to support creation of a region-wide road closure program. Ultimately, scientists believe such road management can ease poaching pressure on tigers and their prey.
To learn more about the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds, the Save Vanishing Species stamp and other important international wildlife conservation efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Without Borders Program, visit: www.fws.gov/international/semipostal. Follow the Service's International Program on Twitter @USFWSInternatl and on Facebook, USFWSInternationalAffairs.
The Detroit Tigers, Inc., a charter member of the American League in 1901, has won four World Series and 11 American League pennants. The team is owned by Michael Ilitch who purchased the ballclub in 1992. Michael and his wife, Marian, jointly own other companies in the food, sports and entertainment industries including: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, Champion Foods, Uptown Entertainment and Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Marian Ilitch is the sole owner of MotorCity Casino Hotel. For more information, visit www.tigers.com.
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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.