Thursday, September 12, 2013

United States to Demolish Stocks of Ivory in Effort to Halt Global Elephant Poaching

Congolese park ranger with a skull of an elephant killed for its ivory

The Obama Administration has recently announced that it would destroy six million tons of confiscated ivory stocks, in order to boost up efforts to curb an illegal ivory trade that has brought wild elephants to the brink of extinction. The destruction, which was announced by U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, was part of a large effort by the administration to levitate illegal wildlife trafficking from a paltry conservation interest to serious national security concern. Officials stated that the destroying of ivory would indicate that President Barack Obama was dedicated to halting the illegal trafficking of wildlife that has ravaged species such as elephants and rhinos. They further added that the destruction is scheduled to take place on October 8th. U.S Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that a new advisory council, which consists of former administration officials, and business and conservation leaders, will help direct the clampdown on criminal poaching syndicates. She also added that wildlife trafficking had increased over the past five years into an international trade worth $10 billion. The poaching of elephants had doubled by a factor of eight in Tanzania, while the slaughter of rhinos had been elevated by a factor of fifty. In response to the United States' decision to destroy ivory stocks, conservation groups felt that the move would hurt the contraband market. A similar action was conducted by governments in a number of other countries, including the Philippines where fifteen million tons of confiscated ivory were crushed by industrial rollers earlier this year. The recently seized ivory in the U.S included raw tusks and carved ivory apprehended by authorities in the last 25 years.

This article is a clear representation that the U.S is committed to the battle against the threat of illegal wildlife trafficking. This can be seen through the response of U.S State Department officials towards the issue, referring it as a national security crisis. One of the notable political figures who plays a prominent role towards the issue is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who stated that as many as 35,000 African elephants were killed last year, accounting to 96 elephants killed in a single day. At this pace, Africa's elephants will become extinct within ten years. She further added that the profits from the illegal trade of ivory were also inciting extremist groups, including associates of Al-Qaeda in Somalia. In the end, she stated that the only way to stop wildlife trafficking is by using a zero-tolerance strategy. In my opinion, this is an absolutely crucial component in the battle against the illegal wildlife trade. By implementing a zero-tolerance policy against the poaching and trade of the world's wildlife, the criminal syndicates monopolizing in these illicit activities would not stand a chance. One of the methods mentioned in this article is imposing tougher penalties on the perpetrators, which the Obama Administration is thinking of introducing. I also feel that a joint partnership among several countries worldwide in targeting and prosecuting these syndicates is also vital in the ongoing battle. This way, the illegal trafficking of wildlife will most likely cease to function.

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