While tough law could be effective in curbing illegal poaching and trafficking of wild animals, educational programs to raise public awareness proved to be more fruitful, a U.S. expert told Xinhua.
Nicole Temple, a researcher with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, said laws and regulations, particularly the Endangered Species Act of 1973, played a role in turning the tide of wildlife protection in the United States.
The act, signed into law by then President Richard Nixon, was introduced against the backdrop of worsening living conditions of wild animals in the 1960s and 1970s when several imperiled species were on the verge of extinction.
Under the act, which listed 2,500 species including some 1,500 native ones, penalties of violations can be a maximum fine of 50,000 U.S. dollars or one-year imprisonment, or both. The law helped recover some species that are now no longer on the endangered or threatened list, Temple said.
"Take the American alligator for example," Temple showed us a two-year-old baby alligator, named "Crabby," in her crowded reptile exhibit room.
"It was listed as an endangered species in 1973 because its population was decimated by hunting back then. After the enforcement of the law, the population of alligators made a comeback and was removed from the list 14 years later," she said.
"However, we found social change yielded more results in wildlife protection. When all people feel 'we want to protect wild animals; we want to protect the organism; we want to protect the environment,' it becomes a national consensus. And educational programs are vital to public awareness of wildlife protection," Temple said. More....