World Wildlife Day as Elephants Face Extinction in Bloody Ivory Trade
Washington, D.C., March 2, 2016 (SSNA) — As tomorrow marks World Wildlife Day, the Enough Project speaks out against the slaughter of wild elephants across Africa. Enough has documented in recent reports an out-of-control ivory trade that is deadly for both elephants and people, and urges support for critical anti-poaching legislation now gaining momentum in the US Senate, following passage of parallel legislation in the House late last year.
In partnership with African Parks, Enough also urgently calls for increased support for park rangers battling to save elephants from increasingly well-organized and heavily armed poaching crews.
Kasper Agger, Field Researcher for the Enough Project based in Central Africa, said: “Some of Africa’s deadliest rebel groups, corrupt officials and criminal gangs are killing elephants at an alarming rate and this iconic species could disappear within just a few decades if left unattended. Park rangers remain the first line of defense and need much greater assistance, including training and material support in their fight against violent poachers.”
Ian Schwab, Director of Advocacy at the Enough Project, said: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has an opportunity to move forward strong legislation that would protect wildlife and help stop the flow of money and resources to armed groups from elephant poaching and other forms of wildlife trafficking. With committed bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate, this is precisely the type of issue where the American people expect action.”
Andrea Heydlauff, Director of Communications, African Parks, said: “African elephants are being targeted increasingly by militarized and well-outfitted poaching gangs across their range. While terrorizing elephants and other species, poachers also wreak havoc on surrounding local communities. In certain cases, park rangers are the only stabilizing force for both wildlife and people.”
Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “This legislation would be a game-changer in two of the most intractable crises threatening lives across Central Africa — brutal armed group violence and the rapid deterioration of some of our most cherished wildlife species. Human security and conservation are inextricably linked. They should no longer be treated by policymakers as on separate tracks. That link has made armed groups stronger and more threatening than ever before, but it also presents an untapped opportunity for effective interventions before it’s too late.”
Designated by the United Nations, this year’s official theme for World Wildlife Day, “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” places a special focus on elephants. In Africa, wild elephants are facing extinction due to massive poaching by armed groups and a lucrative, criminal trade in ivory that spans the globe.
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Deadly armed groups such as Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, as well as Sudanese and South Sudanese armed factions, rely on poaching and trafficking ivory for ammunition and supplies. But this illegal trade wouldn’t be sustained if it weren’t for corrupt actors in governments in east Africa who help smuggle the ivory. To combat this, the Obama administration should step up its anti-corruption and customs enforcement efforts on wildlife trafficking in the region.”
Kasper Agger added: “Violent groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Janjaweed, which are responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the forceful displacement of populations across Africa, are deeply involved with elephant hunting and illicit ivory trafficking, because of massive profits. Blood ivory is now a major driver of insecurity across Africa and not only threatens elephants but also directly leads to killings of people.”
In 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 3rd, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
- Read the Enough Project report “Tusk Wars”: http://eno.ug/1P1rlf2
- Testimony of Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Associate Director of Policy, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, on the role of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the poaching of elephants: http://eno.ug/1JD4e3E
- Short film “Last Days” by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow: http://eno.ug/1OMQAh2
- Information about UN World Wildlife Day: www.wildlifeday.org
- Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act – S.2385 (Introduced in Senate): https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2385
- Global Anti-Poaching Act – H.R.2494 (Passed): https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2494
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About THE ENOUGH PROJECT: The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org
About AFRICAN PARKS: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. With currently ten parks under management in seven countries – CAR, Chad, Republic of Congo, DRC, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – African Parks is protecting more than six million hectares and has the largest counter-poaching force in Africa. To learn more please visit www.african-parks.org
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