After a six-month cabinet-level effort spearheaded by Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Attorney General, Eric Holder, a whole government approach has been enacted to break up wildlife trafficking networks across the globe. Not only are the animals and environment in danger, but the ivory trade is now involved in funding organized crime, including arms trafficking and drug trade, in many unstable African countries. The plan will be revealed to the public at a conference of world leaders on illegal wildlife trade in London on February 12th and 13th.
The illegal poaching of elephant tusks and rhino horns brings in billions of dollars and now includes mass slaughters of animals by organized poachers, some of which are allied with terrorists. Despite elephant poaching being outlawed, the illegal activity still continues and threatens the African elephants with extinction.
President Obama is quoted as saying, “Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years. Today, because of the actions of poachers, species like elephants and rhinoceroses face the risk of significant decline or even extinction. But it does not have to be that way. We can take action to stop these illicit networks and ensure that our children have the chance to grow up in a world with and experience for themselves the wildlife we know and love.”
The Obama Administration’s three-pronged plan includes toughening domestic and global enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad and strengthening international partnerships to combat wildlife poaching. Conservation groups hope this initiative will encourage other countries, especially those that participate in the ivory market, to contribute more aggressively in an effort to end global ivory trade.
Jeffrey Flocken, North American director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says that the U.S. needs to do more in an effort to end this despicable practice. “All major wildlife conservation groups have said the U.S. needs to ban ivory and use diplomatic skills to create leverage on other countries. This is the only way we’re going to save the elephant at this time.” Congress would have to pass new legislation to enforce a total ban, and so far nothing has been proposed.
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