Posts Tagged With: Obama
I spoke to Chinese visitors who were astounded to see these mountains of ivory. After explaining where the tusks come from and the burn they agreed to pose with a tusk. It’s raw form is not beautiful or shiny; it is smelly, dirty and has hack marks on it. I explained why. At first she had no words. she just stared at the stacks. Then she called her friend and said, “I will tell Chinese people not to buy ivory”.
This was the experience of Paula Kahumbu, conservationist and CEO of Wildlife Direct, discussing Kenya’s upcoming ivory burn.
The largest burn in history: 106 tonnes of ivory, 10,000 dead elephants (or to put in in perspective a 30 mile train of elephants trunk to tail) will be destroyed April 30th in Kenya
More than a “display”, the burn will transpire after a much larger event, the Giant’s Club Summit. African leaders, corporate leaders, members of the UN, USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service), and conservationists are among some of the approximate 200 invitees.
This event demonstrates not only the commitment of the Kenyan government to protecting its wildlife, but also gives hope and encouragement to neighboring countries, and the world.
Kahumbu believes Kenya has “turned the corner” in its ongoing struggle with poaching. Elephant poaching has decreased by a whopping 80%, and rhino poaching by 90% in the country. Although the battle is far from over, conservationists are finally beginning to even the playing field.
96 elephants a day
3 rhinos a day
At the current rate, without intervention, extinction would be imminent in the near future.
The insatiable appetite for ivory and horn extends beyond the borders of China and Vietnam. The US is the second largest market for ivory. But since President Obama’s Executive Order to stop wildlife trafficking, the preservation of elephants and rhinos is finally gaining momentum. The US is taking positive and proactive steps to preserve wildlife and combat global trafficking.
Both New York (previously the first largest state for ivory imports) and New Jersey have bans on ivory imports. Now the following states are introducing bans as well:
- Hawaii (third largest state for ivory imports)
- California (second largest state for ivory imports)
The federal rules include banning all commercial imports of African elephant ivory regardless of age. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of finalizing additional rules that could ban interstate trade of ivory, with some exception for antiques, and limit the number of tusks and ivory that may be brought into the U.S. by sports hunters.
Although these steps will provide better protection for the lives of elephants and rhinos, not everyone is over the moon with these motions. Antique dealers and the NRA (National Rifle Association) are concerned. According to an NRA spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen “Consequently, many priceless personal effects will be rendered valueless.”
from Tiger Skins and Rhino Horns:Can a trade deal halt the trafficking?
by: Jackie Northam
The Obama administration is now trying to tackle wildlife trafficking by incorporating rules into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP. This is the massive multilateral trade agreement currently being negotiated among a dozen Asia-Pacific nations, including the United States.
Potential Trade Sanctions
Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, says if it passes, countries found to be involved in illegal wildlife trafficking could face trade sanctions.
“What we’re doing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership is first of all making sure environmental issues are central to the agreement, including things like wildlife trafficking, and then making them fully enforceable just like any other provision of the trade agreement,” he says.
The U.S. is also trying to make this part of a trade deal with the European Union.
But Leigh Henry, senior policy adviser for the World Wildlife Fund, says the Asia-Pacific trade deal is key because much of the demand for the endangered wildlife comes from Asian countries negotiating the TPP.
“Vietnam is huge. They are the primary consumer of rhino horn that’s driving this increase in rhino poaching in South Africa,” Henry says, adding that Malaysia is a huge transit route for the illegal wildlife trade.
Henry says when it comes to fighting wildlife trafficking, international law has no teeth. She hopes the TPP will change that.
The U.S. is trying to better coordinate with international law enforcement agencies and hopes to beef up customs and borders patrol, and the number of fish and wildlife inspectors, if the TPP agreement is signed.
Wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative crime in the world, and the US alone has held the distinction of being second only to China in perpetuating the market for ivory.
In February of this year President Obama banned the commercial use of ivory. He set forth a national strategy of increasing cooperation among a half-dozen federal agencies, toughening laws and enhancing enforcement.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been charged with cracking down on the trade, responding through undercover efforts like Operation Crash, in which officers tackle all aspects of U.S. involvement in the black market rhino horn trade.
But the largest issue is in the ports. Fewer than 330 Fish and Wildlife inspectors patrol the largest U.S. ports, about the same number as 30 years ago, when the agency’s law enforcement branch was formed, before wildlife trafficking was as problematic.
In fact only 6 USFWS inspectors and 4 police agents are employed to search millions of shipments that arrive at JFK airport, one of the most massive cargo facilities in the country. For every crate discovered with illegal ivory, horn or other banned wildlife products, it is estimated that about 10 others make it through.
“We don’t have enough people to do what we have to do,” said Paul Chapelle, the special agent in charge of the USFWS law enforcement office near JFK Airport. And when they do arrest someone, he said, “you go back and look at the [shipping] manifests, and you see the same people had been doing the same thing for five or 10 years. . . . It happens all the time.”
Checking every shipment isn’t feasible but obviously spot checking isn’t enough. Intentions and enacting of laws is only the beginning. To say more manpower is severely needed to back up these laws is an understatement.
Yet ironically with a severely flawed and ineffective system, the Fish and Wildlife agents are considered by many as the world’s most effective illegal wildlife trade enforcement team.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement continues to be the premier law enforcement agency in the world when it comes to combating wildlife trafficking,” said Deputy Chief Ed Grace.
*Source: Darryl Fears of the Washington Post