Washington, DC – September 9, 2013 The Wildlife Conservation Society’s President and CEO Cristián Samper today issued a statement following a White House Forum to Counter Wildlife Trafficking.

At the event, Samper was named one of eight members of the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking. The council was established by a Presidential Executive Order in July. It is tasked with making recommendations to the administration and providing it with ongoing advice and assistance on the issue of wildlife trafficking.

“I am honored to join the Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking and I look forward to working with President Obama, Secretary Jewell, and all the members on the council in the fight to stop illegal wildlife trade. Further, I extend appreciation to Secretary Hillary Clinton who helped to bring attention to the issue of wildlife trafficking as Secretary of State and Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton who visited one of our conservation sites in Africa this summer. Both continue to be tremendous allies to this cause.

“The poaching crisis of elephants and rhinos is at a critical point. Action must be taken to prevent the extinction of targeted species. In order to save elephants and rhinos, it is imperative to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. Without addressing the issue at each of these three points, well-organized, global criminal syndicates will continue to wipe out these dwindling populations. Ivory traffickers often participate in trafficking in narcotics and weapons, and with links to terrorist networks. Poachers threaten the lives of both elephants and park rangers trying to protect elephants and other wildlife. The U.S. government must be a leader in this fight.

“African elephants, alone, are being lost at an unprecedented rate and the demand for ivory shows no decline. Approximately 35,000 elephants were killed by poachers last year – some 96 animals each day.

“The Wildlife Conservation Society has a long history of fighting the poaching of wildlife across several continents. We will bring this expertise to this new council to ensure the best information and data is brought to the administration’s efforts to end this crisis.”

CHIP WEISKOTTEN: (1-202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org )
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org )

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org