The United States has sent a notification to the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) inviting the global community to join them in destroying their stocks of ivory.
The United States plan to crush 5.4 tonnes of seized elephant ivory on 8th October 2013 as a sign of their commitment to combating the trade in ivory that funds criminal and terrorist activities around the world.
In a letter dated 24th September the US has asked CITES secretariat to contact countries who have signed up to the convention to also destroy their stockpiles as a sign of global co-operation in the fight against wildlife trafficking.
The letter says:
No. 2013/044 Geneva, 24 September 2013
CONCERNING: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Destruction of ivory stockpile
1. On 8 October 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service plans to crush and destroy approximately 5.4 tonnes of elephant ivory that was seized for violations of national wildlife laws, including CITESimplementing legislation. The material will include raw and carved whole tusks, smaller carvings, and other elephant ivory items abandoned or forfeited to the Fish and Wildlife Service as a result of its criminal investigations as well as its anti-smuggling efforts at ports of entry over the past 25 years.
2. The destruction of this ivory stockpile is part of a series of actions that are planned by the United States to draw attention to the increased level of poaching and illegal trade that is threatening wild populations of elephants, rhinoceroses and other species, and to strengthen efforts to crack down on these criminal activities. These actions are part of a coordinated effort by the United States Government to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which, among other things, creates a Presidential Task Force charged with developing and implementing a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. For more information on the Executive Order, see:
3. The United States has requested the Secretariat to inform CITES Parties that they are invited to support their action on 8 October by destroying their own stockpiles of confiscated ivory or other illegally traded CITES specimens to demonstrate that all CITES Parties stand together in the global effort to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Jeff Flocken, North America Regional Director for International Fund for Animal Welfare said “An elephant loses its life to poaching, on average, every 15 minutes,” said
“The battle to save elephants cannot be fought in isolation. The U.S. is calling for countries to stand together in the global effort to combat the current poaching crisis and the illegal wildlife trade.
“The U.S. Government has demonstrated strong leadership in this battle including President Barack Obama’s recent Executive Order on combatting wildlife trafficking.”
The U.S. stockpile includes raw and carved elephant tusks, smaller carvings and other elephant ivory items. It weighs 5.4 tonnes and will be crushed outside Denver, Colorado.
Flocken added, “Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19 billion per year, and poaching and worldwide nsecurity are connected. Often, the proceeds are used to fund and arm rebel and militia groups who are willing to slaughter imperiled species and kill people to obtain elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife parts.”
With the trade in endangered species being an important source of funding for terrorists groups a global commitment to stamp out this trade will not just protect animals but also provide a more safe and secure world for people.