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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

Who Really Needs Ivory? The Elephant!

Poaching and wildlife trafficking are decimating wild populations of elephants in Africa and other species around the world, and in the last few years the losses have been staggering as the pace and deadly proficiency of poachers have accelerated – as many as 35,000 elephants killed in 2013. At its current rate, poaching could cost us a fifth of Africa’s elephants over the next decade.


"Classic" is one of the oldest and most dominant bulls in the western Kruger ecosystem, South Africa. Michelle Gadd/USFWS

We know the United States can’t save these species alone. Conservation of species depends on international community coming together to stop poaching, derail trafficking and cut demand.

The United States raised global awareness of this crisis when we crushed our seized ivory – an action since replicated by France and China ­– and we are continuing to lead by example.

President Obama just signed the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which will result in a near-total ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.


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.


Being Faithful to the Elephant

“I meant what I said
And I said what I meant…
An elephant’s faithful
One hundred per cent!”
Horton the elephant in Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

Horton sits on that bird egg, not because it is easy or fun, but because he made a promise to Mayzie the lazy bird.

We, too, have a promise to keep: to conserve the elephant, whose situation grows more dire with each day.

African elephant bull

Elephants are browsers and grazers, eating both grass and trees. Credit: Michelle Gadd/USFWS

That is why today we are crushing the six tons of ivory seized by our law enforcement division for violations of U.S. wildlife laws over the past 25 years.


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