How you can help protect elephants and rhinos in the Bay State

Massachusetts is about to get a lot friendlier for elephants and rhinos.There aren’t too many elephants or rhinos wandering the streets of Worcester or the Hub, but Massachusetts is about to get a lot friendlier for these big animals anyway: state lawmakers have introduced a bill to protect elephants and rhinoceros by limiting sales of rhino horn and ivory, making it harder for wildlife traffickers to operate.

Like New York, New Jersey, California, and a growing roster of other states, Massachusetts is ready to stop treating Africa’s jungles and savannahs like home décor wholesalers.

I have a feeling that anyone reading this probably recoils from the idea of killing an elephant for its tusks, but there are plenty of folks in Massachusetts and the rest of the country who either don’t understand or don’t care where ivory comes from – they just want a fancy statuette or cane handle.

There’s a bit of a difference with rhino horns – the biggest problem now is poaching for the use of horn in “medicine” (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work) – but the effect is the same: Poachers are killing rhinos and elephants at record numbers, all so that consumers can have a carving or a bogus cure for hangovers.

It’s gotten so bad that scientists are predicting regional extinctions in the next decade if we don’t put a stop to the killing. Just as troubling, this century’s new breed of poachers are closely linked to militant groups and international criminal syndicates, and are helping to wreak havoc on African communities as well as ecosystems.

The Massachusetts bill would shut down the state’s role in this global illegal trade, while still allowing Bay Staters to keep the ivory and horn items they already own. And it’s clear that this will make a difference: as we found in last year’s investigative report, Bidding Against Survival, this is a necessary step, because Massachusetts doesn’t already have proper safeguards in place.

You can make a difference by calling or emailing your state representative or senator and asking them to cosponsor the bill. It’s crucial that we get all the support we can for this important legislation, and your help could swing the vote for these awe-inspiring animals. (Just make sure to call your state reps, not the ones in Washington, DC.)

IFAW is headquartered out on Cape Cod, and it’s exciting to see our work making an impact at home, but the effort is also supported by other great partners like the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Zoo New England, the Humane Society of the United States, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Born Free USA.

We’ll be pushing this through to the finish line, so stay tuned for updates!

--PL

Make a difference and email your state representative or senator.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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