Still 'Crushing' On African Elephants

Our Ivory Crush last month showed the world that the United States will move mountains to save elephants and other imperiled wildlife.

In case anyone missed it the first time around, ongoing events are enabling us to keep sounding the message loud and clear.

The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking held its first meeting this week. This group consists of experts in the areas of law enforcement, conservation, communications, economy and diplomacy. And they are united by their commitment to wildlife conservation and by their determination to crush out poaching and wildlife trafficking.

African elephant bull

Forest elephants gather at clearings, which unfortunately makes them susceptible to ambush by poachers. Credit: Richard Ruggiero/USFWS

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Ohio Senator Rob Portman are sponsoring a briefing for us to talk to congressional staff about the Ivory Crush and how the Service is addressing poaching and wildlife trafficking. The senators also cosponsored legislation to reauthorize the Save Vanishing Species stamps, an important and very successful tool in the fight against extinction.

Millions have purchased these stamps online and at their local post offices in the past two years, generating more than $2.5 million for elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and other rapidly declining wildlife species.

Save Vanishing Species stamp

For instance, proceeds from the stamp will help support the training and deployment of a team of five bloodhounds and handlers to track poachers in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Our message carried overseas where France decided to destroy its illegal ivory stockpile and raise penalties on trafficking convictions.

And some African elephant range, transit and destination states agreed to urgent measures to protect African elephants and stop the illegal trade.  The agreement was reached at the African Elephant Summit, the first-ever meeting focusing on the dynamics of the entire ivory trafficking chain.

For many of us, the loss of elephants and other endangered wildlife is a deeply personal issue, and we are determined to help. Which is why, despite all the grim news about elephants, rhinos and other imperiled species, I’m optimistic.

Our determination will help us make a difference.

That rumbling you hear? I think the mountains are starting to move.

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Last updated: August 31, 2011