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.
The African Elephant Action Plan; the Elephant Protection Initiative; the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking… So many high-level efforts to address the current elephant poaching crisis and, hopefully, to protect elephants before it’s too late. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the most effective: a uniform and unequivocal prohibition on the international trade in elephant ivory. And, while you’re at it, destroy the stockpiles around the world. Remove ivory from the global marketplace, once and for all.
The bloody trade in elephant ivory is devastating and requires urgent, thoughtful action. These iconic mammals are senselessly slaughtered for their tusks, which are then sold to markets in the U.S., Asia, and elsewhere, while the proceeds from the sales may fund criminal syndicates and terrorist networks across Africa. With an estimated 50,000 elephants killed annually, we need a determined and profound commitment from the world’s governments to end this cruel trade. The ivory crush by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the announcement of the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, are significant steps toward solving this global wildlife crisis from an American perspective. However, we must continue to push legislation and policies that close the loopholes that allow the ivory trade to continue.
At a London conference last month, representatives from roughly 50 countries participated in talks to halt the increasing slaughter of African elephants, rhinos, and other animals targeted in the international wildlife trade. The delegates acknowledged the detrimental social, economic, and environmental effects of wildlife trade; that illicit and illegal poaching behavior encourages corruption, funds crime syndicates, and undermines fledgling governments; and that global cooperation and a legal framework is needed to form a collective response of action, enforcement, criminalization, and punishment. This is especially important for developing countries, underfunded in their noble quests to protect their wildlife – their natural national heritage.
An additional, promising outcome of the conference was the Elephant Protection Initiative, launched by Ethiopia, Gabon, Chad, Tanzania, and Botswana, that proposes a moratorium on trade in ivory for a minimum of 10 years; dictates the amount of funding necessary to fulfill the African Elephant Action Plan; pushes the closing of domestic ivory markets; and offers an agreement to “put all stockpiles beyond economic use.”
As the economic value of seized ivory is debated on a global stage, the international community has grown increasingly aware that governments are hoarding enormous ivory stockpiles. Following the significant action by Gabon, the Philippines, China, France, and the U.S., Tanzania has announced its plans to destroy its ivory stockpile—an estimated $50 million value—in June. The Tanzanian government, which has faced a dramatic upsurge of elephant poaching in recent years, is finally taking action to try to stop the carnage. However, anti-poaching efforts on the ground prove largely ineffective if not coupled with international coordination, tracking, enforcement, and education in countries that drive the world’s demand for ivory.
My hope is that governments from the U.S., to the U.K., to Ethiopia, to China stand up to elephant poachers and ivory profiteers, to the marauding murderers, and to the vested interests, and enact tangible, profound policy initiatives and enforcement plans to finally end the bloody ivory trade and the senseless slaughter of the world’s precious elephants.
Keep Wildlife in the Wild,