Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, outlined a three-year plan at the Clinton Global Initiative on Thursday to curb the poaching and trafficking of elephants in Africa. The $80 million plan also aims to address American and Asian demand for ivory.
“Unless the killing stops, African forest elephants are expected to be extinct within 10 years. I can’t even grasp what a great disaster this is ecologically, but also for everyone who shares this planet,” said the former secretary of state.
She added that the possibility of extinction “seems like such a rebuke to our own values.”
The leaders of Uganda, Burkino Faso, Gabon, Malawi, Ivory Coast and Tanzania, along with officials from other African nations, pledged their cooperation at the event.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the African nations would support a moratorium on the import, export and sale of tusks and ivory until the elephant population is stabilized.
“It is time for the global community to act decisively against this plague,” said Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon.
The CGI project will increase anti-poaching enforcement by hiring 3,100 additional park guards. It will also target the trafficking of elephants and use sniffer dog teams at transit points. Perhaps most importantly, the plan will mean stiffer penalties for poachers.
“The big problem is that the benefits of poaching and selling ivory are far greater than the risk to the poachers,” said famous chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall. Poachers typically get what amounts to a slap on the wrist, rather than a lengthy jail sentence.
Former President Bill Clinton proudly supported the plan, but couldn’t resist a political joke.
“I mean, here they are, my wife and daughter, hardened Democrats, helping to save the symbol of the Republican Party, in Africa, the elephant,” Clinton quipped. “Before they shut the government down, they should give them some money to save the elephants.”