NEW YORK (November 4, 2014) — The following statement was issued by John Calvelli, Director of the 96 Elephants Campaign:
“Washington voters have spoken out for elephants by overwhelmingly passing I-1401, which bans the trade in parts of elephants and other wildlife. Washington now joins California, New York and New Jersey, which have already enacted ivory bans. We congratulate our 96 Elephants coalition partners for their tireless work which led to the passage of Initiative 1401. 96 Elephants partners who drove this accomplishment include Woodland Park and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, as well as Vulcan Philanthropies, the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“Every day in Africa, about 96 elephants are killed illegally for their ivory – literally tens of thousands of animals dying each year at the hands of poachers. A major challenge to halting the illegal ivory trade is the lack of effective law enforcement controls along the trade chain from Africa, through the transit states, and to the end consumer markets. Legal domestic ivory markets are an enforcement challenge and provide cover for laundering of ivory from elephants killed illegally in Africa. Once ivory is within a country’s borders, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish legal from illegal ivory. As long as demand for ivory remains high and enforcement efforts are low, the legal trade will continue to serve as a front and criminal syndicates will continue to drive elephant poaching across Africa. Passing this initiative is a major step in ending the trade that currently threatens elephants with extinction across much of their range.
“The recent federal ivory ban enacted by the Obama Administration is an excellent first step in stopping trade into the U.S and between states. However, state moratoria and bans are still needed to close loopholes not covered in the federal ban. Only through federal and state cooperation will we truly end the ivory trade in the U.S. The voters of Washington have taken steps to make that a reality.”
WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants” by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective moratoria on sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis. www.96elephants.org