Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
I’m delighted to hear that an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in an indictment by the Department of Justice for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act in a case involving the sale of two African elephant tusks. The subject of the case, Charles Kokesh, is acknowledged to have imported the tusks into the United States legally from Namibia as his “sport trophies,” but was arrested when he allegedly attempted to sell them to a buyer in Florida.
Finally, we are beginning to recognize one of the many problematic effects of trophy hunting on wildlife populations.
Trophy hunters often state that they are not contributing to the endangerment of wildlife species, but the reality is quite different. Not only are trophy hunters a factor in the slaughter of elephants (and other species) through the direct killing, but also by creating a legal avenue by which ivory (or other wildlife parts) can enter the United States to be sold later. According to a recent CITES report, as illegal trade in ivory has grown over the past decade, the number of elephants killed has doubled – we’re witnessing the massacre of some 30,000 elephants a year now, reminiscent of the pre-ivory ban years before 1989. The African elephant population clearly cannot withstand the increasing pressure resulting from illegal ivory trade – or, in this case, the legal ivory trade in trophies, which masks the illegal trade.
The United States is creating a market for this ivory, whether the elephants are legally or illegally killed. While this indictment was a great action by the Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Justice, it makes one thing very clear: We must stop all ivory imports into the US and shut down the American ivory market, which contributes to the unabated killing of African elephants.