Animals around the world are threatened by factors ranging from climate change to habitat loss, but perhaps the most overlooked threat is one that may sound better suited to an earlier era: poaching. Behind every animal trinket or vial of traditional medicine, there is a tragic and needless death, and the scale of the problem is huge: the illegal trade in threatened and endangered species is a $19 billion per year industry and has put some of our planet’s most majestic species—including elephants, rhinos and tigers— in the crosshairs of extinction.
The United States is beginning the hard work of stopping this trade, sending the message to poachers that the killing must stop: In February 2014 the White House released its National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, the biggest step forward on this issue in decades, which includes plans to protect elephants by banning the ivory trade on our shores. This landmark move comes on the heels of the US Ivory Crush, when the Fish & Wildlife Service destroyed its 6-ton stockpile of seized ivory. IFAW applauds these strong actions and is working to strengthen the ban and other crucial conservation measures.
In recent years, the international criminal community has stepped up its involvement in the black market for wildlife, which now ranks as the fourth most-lucrative illegal industry after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. The enormous profits generated by ivory, rhino horn and a host of other animal parts has created strong new links between poachers, militant and terrorist groups, and organized crime, often overlapping with illicit activities like drug running, money laundering and arms dealing. In our new report, Criminal Nature, IFAW illustrates these connections and shows how they impact the human and animal victims of wildlife crime. We have discovered that, far from being an isolated problem, wildlife crime spans continents and has serious consequences for stability in the developing world.
Clinton Global Initiative Commitment: Partnership to Save the Elephants
IFAW has worked for decades to halt the illegal wildlife trade. Now, in the midst of another crisis for elephants, we are expanding our efforts to stop the rampant poaching of these amazing animals by joining the Clinton Global Initiative and conservation partners around the world in the new Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants.
The collaborative effort will work to address the problem on three critical fronts:
- Stop the killing: Partners will invest directly in anti-poaching effectiveness by supporting park guards through equipment, training, law enforcement monitoring, mission costs, aerial surveillance, better intelligence, and salary support.
- Stop the trafficking: Partners will support governments in identifying and implementing priority actions to combat ivory trafficking and call on countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports, and domestic sales of ivory products until elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching.
- Stop the demand: Partners will develop and implement demand reduction strategies in order to change public perceptions about ivory, and ultimately convince consumers not to buy ivory products.
This commitment has the potential to dramatically improve the outlook for the species, ensuring the future survival of the world’s last great elephant populations.
To learn more about IFAW’s work to save elephants and stop wildlife crime please visit:
- Committing to the Clinton Global Initiative, a milestone Partnership to Save Elephants
- The Clinton Global Initiative Commitment
- CGI commitment: an expansion of our approach to save African elephants
- IFAW's Fighting Wildlife Trafficking campaign page
- IFAW's Protecting Elephants campaign page
IFAW has a number of additional resources about this situation:
- U.S. Ivory Trade: Can a crackdown on trafficking save the last titan?
- Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade
- Killing with Keystrokes 2.0: IFAW's investigation into the European online ivory trade
- How much does trophy hunting contribute to African communities?
- Elephants & Ivory
- Making a Killing
- Stopping Illegal Wildlife Trade: Report and Factsheet
- Understanding the U.S. Ivory ban
External sites for more info include:
- PBS: Battle for the Elephants
- The Atlantic: Inside the Global Industry That's Slaughtering Africa's Elephants
- National Geographic: Blood Ivory