International Wildlife Coalition

views updated

International Wildlife Coalition

The International Wildlife Coalition (IWC) was established by a small group of individuals who came from a variety of environmental and animal rights organizations in 1984. Like many NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) that arose in the 1970s and 1980s their initial work involved the protection of whales . The IWC raised money for whale conservation programs on endangered Atlantic humpback whale populations. This was one of the first species where researchers identified individual animals through tail photographs. Using this technique the IWC developed what is now a common tool, a whale adoption program based on individual animals with human names.

From that basis, the fledgling group established itself in an advocacy role with three principles in their mandate: to prevent cruelty to wildlife, to prevent killing of wildlife, and to prevent destruction of wildlife habitat . In light of those principles, the IWC can be characterized as an extended animal rights organization. They maintain the "prevention of cruelty" aspect common to humane societies, perhaps the oldest progenitor of animal rights groups. In standing by an ethic of preventing killing, they stand with animal rights groups, but by protecting habitat they take a more significant step by acting in a broad way to achieve their initial two principles.

The program thus works at both ends of the spectrum, undertaking wildlife rehabilitation and other programs dealing with the individual animals, as well as lobbying and promoting letter writing campaigns to improve wildlife legislation. For example, they have used their Brazilian office to create pressure to combat the international trade in exotic pets, and their Canadian office to oppose the harp seal hunt and the deterioration of Canada's impending endangered species legislation. Their United States-based operation has built a reputation in the research field working with government agencies to ensure that whale-watching on the eastern seaboard does not harm the whales. Offices in the United Kingdom are a focus for the IWC concern over the European Community policies, such as lifting their ban on importing fur from animals killed in leg hold traps.

It has become evident that the diversity within the varied groups that constitute the environmental community is a positive force, however, most conservation NGOs do not cross the gulf between animal rights and habitat conservation. A clear distinction exists between single animal approaches and broader conservation ideals, as they appeal to different protection strategies, and potentially different donors. Although the emotional appeal of releasing porpoises from fishing nets alive outranks backroom lobbying for changes in fishing regulations, the lobbying effort protect more porpoises. The IWC may be deemed more successful by exploiting a range of targets, or less so than a dedicated advocacy group applying all its focus to one issue. They can point to a growth from a modest 3,000 supporters in the beginning, to over 100,000 people supporting the International Wildlife Coalition today.

[David Duffus ]



International Wildlife Coalition, 70 East Falmouth Highway, East Falmouth, MA USA 02536 (508) 548-8328, Fax: (508) 548-8542, Email: [email protected], <>

About this article

International Wildlife Coalition

Updated About content Print Article


International Wildlife Coalition