President Obama just made a lot of friends in the wildlife community.
In a major speech today during his state visit to Tanzania, he announced a new executive order. Obama pledged to assist governments around the world in anti-wildlife trafficking activities. He also is taking action here at home to elevate this issue to the top levels of the U.S. Government and to enhance U.S. regulations to better protect elephants, rhinos, and other species from illegal trade.
Please take a minute to thank the White House for this historic action!
Elephants, rhinos, and hundreds of other threatened and endangered animals face an enormous and growing menace from the illegal trade of exotic animals. Record numbers of elephants were killed in 2011 and 2012 for their ivory.
Poaching fuels a multi-billion dollar global industry that is now the fourth-largest illegal activity on the planet – bigger than diamonds or gold, bigger than small-arms dealing, human-organ trafficking or art theft. Making matters worse, this crisis is increasingly driven by organized crime and terrorist groups. They’ve taken a militarized approach to animal slaughter and have also murdered hundreds of park rangers over the last decade.
IFAW has partnered with Interpol to stem the tide of wildlife crime since 2006. In our new report, “Criminal Nature,” IFAW highlights the connections between poaching, terrorism, and international smuggling of other illicit cargo like weapons and drugs, showing how the illegal wildlife trade has far-reaching implications for global security. Rhino horns, tiger pelts, elephant tusks, exotic birds and pangolin scales have become the currency underwriting violent activities in central Africa and other unstable regions, in part because of lax penalties for offenders and the low risk of detection.
- Last year, poachers from Chad and Sudan killed between 300 and 450 elephants in a matter of weeks in Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park.
- Powdered rhinoceros horn is worth up to $30,000 per pound – more than gold or platinum – leading to a record 668 rhinos killed last year in South Africa.
- Illegal ivory trade is over three times larger than it was in 1998.
Nations around the globe need to craft stronger policies, put law enforcement to work on the task, and build regional networks that use new technologies and simple solutions alike to halt the momentum of traffickers. We also need to reduce demand, here and abroad, for the ghastly status-symbol trinkets, bogus traditional medicines, and other products that are carrying us toward a world barren of our fellow creatures.
The good news is that we can change this state of affairs. The United States is one of the biggest consumers of illegal animal products. Reforms here will make the world safer for these iconic creatures. Please thank President Obama for his strong action to protect wildlife. His announcement shows that his Administration is taking wildlife crime seriously – and not a day too soon.
Thank you for your support!
IFAW Regional Director, North America
P.S.: American leadership is desperately needed to inspire the international conservation community. Let the President know he’s doing the right thing by fighting the illegal wildlife trade.