An enormous machine roared to life pulverizing more than one ton of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs in the heart of New York City today. The ivory crush in Times Square sent a dramatic message to the world that the United States will not tolerate ivory trafficking.
Several countries, including China, have recently joined the US in publicly destroying their illegal ivory stockpiles—a powerful act demonstrating that a country will not tolerate wildlife crime. The act ensures that stockpiles of seized ivory will never again be sold and affirms that ivory is only of value if it remains on elephants as nature intended. And these burns and crushes also bring global attention to a problem threatening not only elephants and other wildlife, but also national development and regional stability.
Thailand has until the end of March 2015 to take measures to shut down domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory or it will face trade sanctions under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which met in Geneva last July.
Rajkumar Praja, one of Nepal’s most wanted wildlife criminals, was arrested by an INTERPOL team in Malaysia and extradited to Nepal where he faces a lengthy spell in jail for rhino poaching and trafficking in rhino horns.
In February 2015, Nepal will host the first symposium focused on getting to zero poaching. Delegates from more than 13 Asian countries representing conservation agencies, police and prosecution services will share best practices, tools and technologies that can be used to respond to the poaching crisis.
At the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton announced the Elephant Action Network. WWF’s Ginette Hemley and TRAFFIC’s Senior Director Crawford Allan attended the event in New York on Sept. 23.
As conservationists, we have learned what it takes to help rhinos recover from the very edge of extinction.The formula is quite simple: protect rhinos where they exist, incentivize community stewardship of rhino populations, manage populations for maximum growth, establish new populations in suitable locations for maximum protection and population growth. This formula is achievable, but it does require political will and resources to see the plan through.
Sniffer dogs—with their remarkable sense of smell—are increasingly part of a global effort to intercept illegal wildlife and wildlife products like ivory, rhino horns, sea turtles and pangolins smuggled through airports, shipping ports and public transportation centers.
They serve under various titles—rangers, forest guards, eco guard and field enforcement officers—but these men and women on the frontlines of conservation are perhaps the most important protectors of the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
One of the world’s largest populations of tigers exists not in the wild—but in captivity in the United States. With an estimated 5,000 tigers, the U.S. captive tiger population exceeds the approximately 3,200 tigers in the wild.
The governments of CITES took strong and decisive action in Geneva last week. They laid out timelines and concrete deliverables for countries most complicit in the illegal ivory trade. In particular, they laid down a strict timeline for Thailand to take the necessary steps to rectify the problems that have facilitated its rise to becoming the world’s largest unregulated ivory market. Thailand has until March 2015 to deliver, or they face sanctions.
This move indicates efforts by the Hong Kong government to combat the illegal ivory trade, which is fueling an elephant poaching crisis. Last year, an estimated 30,000 elephants were slaughtered to feed the black market trade in ivory.
The world has never before rallied together to stop wildlife crime like they did this week in London. Heads of state, ministers and other high-level representatives from 46 countries—including those most heavily impacted by poaching and illegal trade of wildlife—signed onto an extraordinary joint declaration.