WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Government today called on the international community to destroy all stocks of illegal and confiscated elephant ivory.
The U.S. will be destroying its own ivory stockpile on October 8, 2013, as a powerful symbol that ivory trinkets have no value and are leading to the unprecedented slaughter of elephants.
"An elephant loses its life to poaching, on average, every 15 minutes," said Jeff Flocken, North America Regional Director (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).
"The battle to save elephants cannot be fought in isolation. The U.S. is calling for countries to stand together in the global effort to combat the current poaching crisis and the illegal wildlife trade.
"The U.S. Government has demonstrated strong leadership in this battle including President Barack Obama's recent Executive Order on combatting wildlife trafficking."
The U.S. stockpile includes raw and carved elephant tusks, smaller carvings and other elephant ivory items. It weighs 5.4 tonnes and will be crushed outside Denver, Colorado.
Flocken added, "Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19 billion per year, and poaching and worldwide insecurity are connected. Often, the proceeds are used to fund and arm rebel and militia groups who are willing to slaughter imperiled species and kill people to obtain elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife parts."
Media reports this week linked the Al-Shabaab attack in Nairobi to poaching and illegal trade of ivory. It is alleged that up to 40 per cent of Al-Shabaab's funds come from ivory buyers and consumers.
A new IFAW report http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/resource-centre/criminal-nature-global-security-implications-illegal-wildlife-tra-0 documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people.
To learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW's digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
IFAW is working to help protect elephants on the ground by supporting anti-poaching patrol trainings, working with Interpol to boost enforcement to fight wildlife trafficking and reducing demand for ivory through consumer awareness campaigns. IFAW is supporting the Indian Government in presenting the historic E50:50 Elephant Congress which will take place in New Delhi in November 2013, bringing together for the first time ministers from the 50 elephant range countries to address the conservation and welfare needs of elephants worldwide for the next 50 years.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare