U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Wildlife Trafficking

Administration’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Spurs Debate in Congress

Washington, DC – February 26, 2014 –
The following statement was released today by WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants Campaign John Calvelli:

“The Wildlife Conservation Society would like to applaud U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce for his leadership in calling today’s hearing, ‘International Wildlife Trafficking Threats to Conservation and National Security,’ and believes that endangered wildlife will benefit from Congress’s action in response to the crisis.

“We appreciate Chairman Royce’s emphasis, as well as that of hearing witnesses Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, and Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher, on the national security impacts of wildlife crime. Links with transnational militia groups make efforts to combat trafficking an important bulwark against international terrorist activities, political instability and other national security threats.

“The Obama Administration’s recently issued National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which includes a U.S. ban on commercial trade in ivory and rhino horn, is an unprecedented and historic step by any government to commit all aspects of its operations behind addressing this crisis. We are glad that Congressman Royce and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee are similarly committed to decisive action on this front.

“There is clearly worldwide momentum for addressing this crisis. Earlier this month, United For Wildlife, a collaboration between the Royal Foundation and HRH the Duke of Cambridge and the world’s top seven conservation organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, convened a symposium in London to share solutions to this problem. The next day, forty-six countries, convened by the Government of the United Kingdom, governed a high level meeting of governments, and 46 governments signed the “London Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade” to commit themselves to fully confront this crisis and acknowledge the seriousness of wildlife crime. Last September, dozens of organizations joined 11 African countries at the Clinton Global Initiative and committed to end the elephant poaching crisis. And last fall, the U.S. symbolically destroyed large quantities of confiscated illegal ivory, alongside similar actions by China, Hong Kong, France Gabon, Kenya, Chad and the Philippines.

“No single person, non-governmental organization or government entity can save elephants and other endangered species alone. WCS is proud to join with these Congressional leaders, U.S. government agencies, governments around the world, nonprofit organizations and concerned citizens to create a movement that will end the illegal killing and trade of wildlife.”

Chip Weiskotten – 202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org
Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS.

96 Elephants
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 domestic sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.Visit: www.96elephants.org