96 elephants are killed every day in Africa

Campaign supports and amplifies Clinton Global Initiative to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand

Campaign calls for U.S. moratorium on ivory sales, bolsters elephant protection, educates public about ivory trade consumption

U.S. is a major importer of ivory

Campaign URL: www.96elephants.org

NEW YORK (September, 26, 2013) — The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a campaign to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to save Africa’s elephants. The CGI commitment to end the crisis facing Africa’s elephants was made today by Secretary Hillary Clinton, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, representatives from African and Asian nations, and a powerful list of several conservation NGOs.

Called “96 Elephants” (www.96elephants.org) – named for the number of elephants currently gunned down each day by poachers – the WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective U.S. moratorium laws; bolstering elephant protection with additional funding; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.

“WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign will bring together world citizens, partners, thought leaders and change makers to leverage collective influence to protect key elephant populations and reduce ivory trafficking and demand,” said Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO. “Together, we must stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. The CGI commitment, along with 96 elephants and the work of our fellow conservation partners marks a tipping point to prevent the slaughter of Africa’s elephants. In 1980, we estimated there were 1.2 million African elephants. Today, there are less than 420,000. It is unconscionable that 96 elephants are gunned down each day. I know together we can mobilize all our resources to turn this crisis around.”

The campaign is calling for the Obama Administration to institute a moratorium on domestic ivory sales and call on other countries to do the same. The U.S. is a major second largest importer of ivory. Much of this trade is currently legal under a confusing set of U.S. regulations that - perpetuates black market sales of illegal ivory.

Elizabeth Bennett, WCS Vice President for Species Conservation, said: “A moratorium on ivory sales within the United States is one clear and simple rule that will help elephants. It is currently legal to sell some types of ivory depending on its age and origin, but frankly, it’s a confusing and detailed web of laws that are easy to manipulate. Furthermore, legal trade provides a front for laundering in ivory from the illegal trade. Worse yet, it sends the wrong message to poachers as well as other nations that are trying to control trafficking in their countries.”

John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, said: “We firmly believe that hope is not lost. We’ve launched our 96 Elephants campaign to help educate the public about ivory’s bloody toll. Each of us can play an important role in helping to stop the demand. By working with our partners we can spread the message far and wide and make a real difference for elephants.”

John Robinson, WCS Executive Director for Conservation and Science, said: “We’re in a poaching crisis, the likes of which WCS has never seen before. Inadequate protection for elephants and insufficient efforts to halt ivory trafficking coupled with skyrocketing demand for ivory have put elephants in the crosshairs. The 96 Elephants campaign is dedicated to raising awareness and support so we can work with our partners to end this crisis.”

The 96 Elephants campaign will:
  • Bolster elephant protection in the wild by increasing support for park guards, intelligence networks, and government operations in the last great protected areas for elephants throughout the Congo Basin and East Africa. (WCS recently launched elephant protection programs in four new target sites: Ivindo National Park in Gabon; Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Ruaha and Katavi National Parks in Tanzania; and Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique. In these four sites alone, 44,000 elephants are at immediate risk.)
  • Fund high-tech tools in the field ranging from drones and sophisticated remote cameras that track poachers in real-time, to specially trained sniffer dogs to find smuggled ivory in ports and trading hubs. 
  • Engage the public through a series of actions including online petitions and letter writing campaigns enhanced through social media to support a U.S. moratorium, increase funding, and spread the word about demand and consumption of ivory. WCS will educate public audiences about the link between the purchase of ivory products and the elephant poaching crisis, and support global moratoria and other policies that protect elephants.

96 Elephants dovetails with the CGI plan announced today: “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants” which includes other NGO partners and nation leaders. It focuses on stopping the killing through increases in enforcement and improved management at 48 sites across Africa that contain two thirds of the continents’ elephant population. It will stop the trafficking by working with African nations and consumer nations on moratoria, while increasing illegal ivory seizures at Asian ports by 50 percent. And it will stop the demand with a goal of reducing consumer intention to buy ivory by 50 percent, by working in key consumer nations and joining forces with the zoo and aquarium community along with other NGO partners.

Throughout Africa, elephant numbers have plummeted by 76 percent since 1980 due largely to the demand of elephant ivory with an estimated 35,000 slaughtered by poachers in 2012 alone.

STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@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.