An unprecedented chorus has spoken for the world’s elephants: More than one million people signed a WWF petition supporting a new proposed rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to prevent illegal African elephant ivory from being imported and sold in the US.
Over two tons of elephant tusks, carved ivory, and trinkets in Thailand—most of it from elephants poached a continent away in Africa—made its way into a machine that ground the ivory into chips. The solemn ceremony to destroy Thailand’s illegal ivory follows a number of important laws the country passed to crack down on the illegal ivory trade.
New draft ivory regulations will significantly curtail the sale of commercial ivory in the United States and help stop wildlife crime worldwide. President Obama announced the long-awaited regulations—along with the formation of an ambitious new United States Wildlife Trafficking Alliance —on his first official trip to Kenya.
Today at a hearing on wildlife poaching before the Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, WWF’s senior vice president of wildlife conservation Ginette Hemley attested that wildlife crime is an urgent crisis that must and can be stopped.
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.
Since becoming a WWF global ambassador, Andy Murray has been particularly passionate about raising awareness for WWF’s initiative in Nepal that supports the training and use of sniffer dogs to help track down, apprehend and deter poachers in and around Chitwan National Park.
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.
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.
With demand for ivory at an all-time high, the campaign asks people to imagine a life without elephants by publicly removing the Thai letter representing elephants—“Chor Chang”—from their names. The Thai word for elephant, “Chang,” starts with the letter in the Thai alphabet called “Chor”. By removing Chor Chang from their names, Thai people are making a statement that they want the illegal trade in ivory to stop or their beloved national animal—the elephant—could disappear.
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.
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.
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.
The United States imposed one of the longest sentences for a wildlife trafficking on Zhifei Li, the ringleader of an illegal wildlife trafficking operation that spanned the US and China, on May 27, 2014.
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.