WASHINGTON, DC, February 12, 2014 (ENS) – The Obama administration Tuesday announced a newNational Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that marshals the resources of all executive branch agencies. As part of the new strategy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will implement a U.S. ban on commercial import and export of elephant ivory.
This unprecedented action comes in response to the escalating activities of wildlife criminals that threaten the survival of the African elephant, rhinoceros and many other species around the world, said federal government officials.
“We are seeing record high demand for wildlife products that is having a devastating impact, with species like elephants and rhinos facing the risk of significant decline or even extinction.” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “A commercial ban is a critical element in the President’s strategy to stop illegal wildlife trafficking and to shut down criminal markets that encourage poaching.”
The Obama administration’s announcement is timed to coincide with the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, convened by the British Government, taking place this week in London.
In November, federal government officials crushed six tons of confiscated ivory in an event in Denver, Colorado designed to undermine the black market value of poached ivory.
In the National Strategy document, the administration warns that illegal ivory trading is a serious national security issue. “Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of criminals and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in poached wildlife. Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years.”
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