The Wildlife Conservation Society's President and CEO Cristián Samper today issued a statement in connection with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service event in Denver, CO, at which six tons of illegal elephant ivory were to be crushed.
Samper, one of eight members of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking appointed by President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, is tasked with making recommendations to the administration and providing it with ongoing advice and assistance on the issue of wildlife trafficking. WCS recently launched 96 Elephants, a public outreach campaign aiming to bolster elephant protection and educate the public about ivory trade and consumption. WCS is also part of a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to end the elephant poaching crisis.
"Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes the unprecedented step of pulverizing nearly six tons of elephant ivory stored at the National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado. With this bold action, the United States government joins a small group of nations -- the Philippines, Kenya, and Gabon -- that have destroyed their ivory stockpiles to confront the multimillion dollar illegal ivory trade. This trade, increasingly the domain of large global criminal syndicates, has been responsible for the loss of some 76 percent of all African forest elephants in the past decade. Across Africa, elephant range states are calling for a moratorium on the sale and purchase of ivory. As a global leader in the fight to confront this crisis, the United States must do the same.
"To end the elephant poaching crisis, we know that we must take a three-pronged approach: stop the killing, stop the trafficking, stop the demand. That effort takes a giant step forward today, particularly on the trafficking segment, as the U.S. demonstrates its own commitment to eliminating the market for illegal ivory. More can be done domestically to stop trafficking, including instituting a moratorium on all ivory sales within the U.S.
"African elephants, alone, are being lost at an unprecedented rate and the demand for ivory shows no decline. Approximately 35,000 elephants were killed by poachers last year -- some 96 elephants each day.
"Our government is increasingly sending a clear message to ivory traffickers. I encourage everyone to join the campaign at 96elephants.org to help us enact a moratorium on ivory trade within the U.S."
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