Category Archives: CGI

Close the U.S. Ivory Market for Good

By Cristián Samper and Susan Lieberman

May 19, 2014
It’s been said that insanity is doing the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome. We have been mindful of that idea as we’ve followed the reactions from supporters of commercial ivory sales to restrictions recently imposed by President Obama at the suggestion of his Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, upon which we are privileged to serve.

The president’s boldest – and most controversial – decision was to prohibit all commercial imports and interstate commerce in elephant ivory, including antiques. Opponents suggest this unfairly targets owners of legal ivory and argue that the new rules will do nothing to protect elephants in Africa. To secure elephants and their habitats, argue critics (who say they support such a goal), only a legal ivory market will do.

In fact, we have lived with a legal ivory market for many years. It has enabled purveyors of illegal ivory (obtained from the slaughter of elephants for their tusks) to launder their goods, falsely claiming new ivory to be antique or at the very least purchased prior to a ban imposed on the international commercial ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Antique ivory is virtually indistinguishable from fresh, particularly when carved or otherwise processed.

The convention’s restrictions succeeded for many years in reducing poaching and allowing elephant populations to begin to recover. However, we have more recently seen the rise of organized criminal networks involved in wildlife trafficking, sometimes working with armed rebels and others across Africa that seek to sustain their operations with precious “white gold.” The current wave of trafficking is both driven by and encourages corruption.

The criminal networks – and others – operating throughout the ivory trade chain are now responsible for the death of more than 35,000 African elephants per year, or about 96 each day. The global community, including many African elephant range countries and the Obama administration, recognizes that if we want a different outcome we have to try different actions.

The new National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking provides guiding principles to all federal agencies to tackle this serious transnational crime and focuses on strengthening domestic and global enforcement, reducing demand for ivory and other endangered species products, and garnering international political will.

With the United States estimated to have one of the largest domestic commercial ivory markets after China, loopholes in current U.S. law not covered by the convention’s ban must be closed. How can we ask other countries to do their part to clamp down on this pernicious trade if we are not willing to do the same?

Some critics, including Godfrey Harris and Daniel Stiles writing in The New York Times, argue that instead of stricter moratoria on ivory sales, we should focus efforts on educating consumers in Asia and “more aggressive enforcement of anti-poaching efforts in Africa.”

But those are tactics already embraced by the conservation community and many governments. The Wildlife Conservation Society and other NGO partners are working actively on evidence-based efforts to reduce the purchase of ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species products, in China and Southeast Asia in particular. We are also collaborating closely with governments to promote strong enforcement along the trade chain, including effecting successful prosecutions and encouraging deterrent penalties. The U.S. National Strategy embraces all of these efforts and we are already beginning to see positive results.

The Chinese public appears to be awakening to the horrors of the ivory trade as messages on Weibo (a social media site combining elements of both Facebook and Twitter), other media including newspapers and PSAs, and celebrities spread the word, and both China and the Hong Kong have destroyed or committed to destroying some or all of their stockpiles of seized ivory. A growing number of other governments around the world are destroying stockpiles too and using the occasion to highlight the need to address trafficking in ivory seriously.

Some musicians and gun owners question the efficacy of tighter rules recently outlined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming they unfairly restrict their ability to travel with items containing trace amounts of ivory. But there is nothing in the administration’s proposed new ivory rules that will prevent people from traveling within the U.S. with their items. Only sales will be prohibited.

Now is not the time to focus on minutia or to be complacent. The U.S. must show leadership and the administration’s new ivory policy and bold National Wildlife Trafficking Strategy are evidence of just such leadership. The European Union, China and others are all increasing their attention on this critical issue, and evaluating their strategies to stop the scourge of illegal wildlife trade and treat it as a serious transnational crime.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Standing Committee meets in July to evaluate progress on stopping elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. We are hopeful that the United States, which has a seat on that committee, will be able to attend with its head held high and announce that it has taken bold action to close U.S. domestic markets to ivory trade.

Kenya: Stop This Massacre of Elephants, Rhino

By Alex O. Awaiti, The Star

25 March 2014
Early this year, a story in the New York Times described how 72 boxes of trinkets were all that remained after more than 100 elephants were slaughtered for their incisor teeth.The trinkets included beads, chess sets, bone-white animal figures, bangles and toys, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Similarly, rhino horn is regarded as an irreplaceable ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine.

Its collection is responsible for the shameful massacre of tens of thousands of rhinos. The largest land creatures on the planet are being slaughtered to extinction for vanity and myth of healing.

Like biting your fingernails or munching equine hooves, rhino horn has no effect against pain or inflammation, or muscle spasm or stomach ailments. Elephants and rhinos are not nondescript organisms. They are fascinating, gentle giants.

For instance, a recent study in which researchers played voice recordings to wild African elephants revealed that elephants are able to differentiate between ethnicities – Maasai and Kamba – and gender.

Moreover, elephants are intelligent and social creatures. Invariably, poaching of adult elephants ravages their social structure, reducing elephant populations to leaderless units of traumatized orphans.

Half a kilogram of ivory is worth about US$1,500 in the black market. The price of rhino horn varies between US$65,000 and US$100,000 a kilogram, which is about 2.5 times more than the value of a kilogram of gold.

Profits from illegal wildlife trafficking are now worth an estimated US$8-10 billion annually, making it the fifth most profitable form of transnational organized crime after narcotics, human trafficking, oil, and counterfeiting.

Poachers are now slaughtering up to 35,000 of the estimated 500,000 African elephants every year for their tusks. In 2013 about 1100 rhinos were killed in Kenya and South Africa.

Over 95 percent of the dead rhinos were killed in South Africa where poachers are using GPS, helicopters and semi-automatic weapons. This year alone, Kenya has lost 13 rhinos and 14 elephants, a majority of them killed inside the most well protected sanctuaries.

Illegal wildlife trade is big, with organized-crime syndicate modus operandi, which operates locally, with links of couriers, buyers and exporters who sell to Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand, the primary ivory and rhino horn consuming nations in the world.

Quoting a recent Interpol report, Kenya’s foremost conservationist, Richard Leakey, said Kenya is now the preeminent conduit for trafficking ivory and rhino horn in East Africa. The Kenyan port of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania are the two largest exit points for illicit ivory.

According to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there is growing evidence that terrorist groups including Al-Shabaab with its unspeakable attack on Westgate fund their activities from ivory trafficking.

It is believed that Al-Shabaab raises circa US$600,000 a month from poaching to funds its activities. Janjaweed, a militia that operates in Darfur and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, also raise money directly from poaching.

Poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking poses a grave threat to national security, political, social and economic stability. There is credible evidence money made from poaching is funding Al-Shabaab, giving them the financial and organizational wherewithal to kill and maim innocent Kenyans.

It is plausible that the haul of money made from poaching is used to corrupt public officials, thus undermining the integrity and capability of our institutions.

The inexorable decline of rhino and elephant will change irreversibly, the structure and workings of savanna ecosystems, including pastoralism. Such dramatic habitat changes will wipe Kenya off the list of leading wildlife tourism destinations.

What is scary is that this will happen before 2030. The collapse of tourism will have a Tsunami effect on our economy. Tourism contributes nearly 15 percent of our GDP and supports nearly 900,000 jobs. Poaching is therefore an economic crime of grave proportions.

It is inconceivable that Kenya’s ubiquitous security and intelligence resources cannot find and bring to justice the individuals behind the nefarious wildlife trafficking. Like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, we have chosen to pass by on the other side.

But like the Samaritan, we must stop and save for posterity, the rich wildlife heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears. In honor of these gentle giants, I rephrase the eternal words of English poet and preacher John Donne. Any elephant or rhino death diminishes me, because I am involved in all of nature’s bounty.

Dr. Awiti is the director of the East African Institute and assistant professor at Aga Khan University.

Anti-elephant poaching story goes viral in China
December 20, 2013

A newspaper story about the impact of the ivory trade has gone viral in China, raising awareness among millions of Chinese, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The story, published November 15 in Southern Weekly  has been shared widely across Chinese web sites and social media, according to the conservation group.

“The total views of the original Southern Weekly Tweets and Retweets on Weibo (China’s Twitter/Facebook hybrid) exceeded 10 million. Most of these “netizens,” or members of the Chinese online public, were from Tier 1 Chinese cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong), the most significant consumers of ivory,” said WCS in a statement.

“The article was reposted on 24 online discussion forums or Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) including Mop and Tianya, two of the most popular in China. Thousands of comments were generated on the Tianya BBS forum alone. Overall over 5,000 comments on the article were posted on Weibo, BBS fora, and other websites.”

The story received wide play outside environmental news, being picked up on finance sites, according to WCS.

“This represents an important shift for the topic of ivory from the specialist environmental pages to the mainstream debate,” said the group.

The article, titled “The Blood Ivory: Behind the Largest Ivory Smuggling Cases in China”, identified Chinese consumption as the main driver of elephant poaching. It noted links between the ivory trade and terror and rebel groups in Africa.

The ivory trade has exploded in recent years due to surging demand from middle class consumers in China. Conservationists estimate that up to 35,000 elephants may have been killed in 2012 alone.

The carnage has spurred several NGO’s, including WCS, to step up campaigns targeting both the supply and demand sides of the trade. In September, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) gave these efforts a boost when it launched a massive push to catalyze support for stopping “blood ivory”.

But reaching Chinese buyers has remained a challenge. Therefore WCS welcomed the news that elephant ivory is now garnering attention in China.

“To have the influential mainstream media make the link between the elephant crisis and the Chinese demand for ivory is hugely significant,” Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, said in a statement.

“In China, it’s not just what is said but who says it,” added Joe Walston, Executive Director of WCS’s Asia Program. “To have the Southern Weekly give its front page to an article highlighting China’s role in the ivory trade is monumental. This is no longer a fringe topic.”

The Heavy Cost of Elephant Poaching

y Andrea Turkalo, U.S. News
October 24, 2013

Curbing ivory poaching requires major changes in political will

An unprecedented demand for ivory today has resulted in the slaughter of elephants throughout their range. It is estimated that 96 elephants were killed in Africa each day during 2012. That translates to four elephants an hour or one elephant every 15 minutes. In scarcely more time than it takes to read this commentary, one more elephant will be dead.

Fueling this devastation are greed for a rare commodity, local poverty and social disorder. Wracked by civil strife, central Africa presently finds itself amidst political chaos that has enabled people to profit from the looting of natural resources, including wildlife. At present rates of decline, forest elephants could go extinct within a decade.

Twenty three years ago, I began studying a population of forest elephants at the Dzanga Bai clearing in the southwest corner of the Central African Republic. Protection for this particular population was probably the best in the entire central Africa region, with regular guard patrols routinely confiscating arms and arresting poachers.

To get to the clearing one must walk a couple of kilometers from the local base camp along huge elephant trails stamped out over hundreds of years. After a half hour’s walk through the forest, the sky lightens as the trees give way to a great clearing. Upon emerging, you may see 40 to 100 elephants at any given time – part of an estimated regional population of roughly 75,000 animals.

Having no nationality, the elephants arrive from across the larger Sangha Tri-National Protected Area, some traveling hundreds of miles. They become very excited when they recognize family members they haven’t encountered for a long time. Elephants can be seen running across the clearing several hundred meters to greet each other in what are visibly emotional encounters.

In March of this year, the Central African Republic’s government was toppled with the help of heavily armed rebels calling themselves Seleka. Since then, Seleka has wreaked havoc with both local people and the nation’s wildlife. In early April, the rebels infiltrated the Dzanga Bai clearing, gunned down 26 elephants with automatic weapons, hacked out the animals’ tusks, then vanished.

The driving force behind the escalation in poaching is the demand for ivory in the Far East, notably from China, as well as from other areas of the developed world. The price per kilo of ivory skyrocketed in the past decade as rising incomes in these places provided more and more people with the means to purchase intricately-carved, high-status ivory objects.

Stemming the current tide of elephant poaching will be difficult. The first line of defense in protecting wildlife entails the presence of well-trained and equipped guards whose work is valued and rewarded. In all areas of Africa there are insufficient numbers of such forces. Where present, they are often poorly equipped with low morale, leaving them susceptible to corruption.

As the Dzanga Bai incident suggests, armed rebel groups are increasingly involved in the ivory trade. Writing recently in The New York Times, a former assistant to Defense Secretaries Panetta and Hagel noted that Al Shabab, the Somali group believed responsible for the recent mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya, receives up to half its operating funds from ivory sales.

The rise of rebel groups like Al Shabab threatens regional stability and reflects a growing casualty of the ivory trade: people. Excruciating poverty exists in much of the elephants’ range. Where natural resources like wildlife and minerals are not managed sustainably so that all citizens reap benefits, poverty will persist, creating further economic disparity and fueling greater insecurity.

Curbing ivory poaching requires major changes in political will. Existing wildlife laws must be enforced and perpetrators punished if poaching is to be perceived as a serious crime. Intelligence gathering is needed to determine how poaching syndicates operate. Finally, ivory destination countries must accept responsibility for driving the precipitous decline of the largest terrestrial mammal.

Under the umbrella of the Clinton Global Initiative, and with the strong support of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, 16 international conservation NGOs are working now with the governments of African elephant range states and ivory consumer nations to achieve these goals. Our message is simple: Stop the killing. Stop the trafficking. Stop the demand.

And, yes, mourn the elephant whose life was brutally taken in the time it took to read this.

Terrorism and the ivory trade

By Laurel Neme, Andrea Crosta and Nir Kalron, Los Angeles Times
October 14, 2013

If the world needs another reason to get serious about combating elephant poaching, here’s one: The attack by terrorists on Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Income from illegal ivory trafficking is a substantial funding source for the Shabab, the group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

The connection between terrorism and wildlife smuggling is clear. An 18-month undercover investigation conducted by our groups found an indisputable financial trail between the illicit trade in ivory and rhino horns and the Shabab. This connection is of increasing concern to world leaders. In her recent announcement of a new global effort to combat poaching, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted that African terrorist groups, including the Shabab, “fund their terrorist activities to a great extent from ivory trafficking.”

Our investigation detailed how the Shabab acts as a middleman, taking orders from agents in Asia or Persian Gulf states and purchasing ivory from small-time brokers to fill those orders. The terrorist group, we found, pays better than many middlemen (about $90 a pound in 2012), making it an attractive buyer. The brokers (often related by clan) who engage the poachers, pay about $23 per pound, which means they make a hefty return in their dealings with the Shabab.

The Shabab’s spot as a premier broker is in part due to its financial and organizational prowess. And a recent crackdown by the Kenya Wildlife Service on ivory smuggling at its ports and airports has made the group an even more essential player. But the real driver of the Shabab’s ivory business is soaring demand in consuming countries, which raises prices and makes the trade ever more lucrative. Illicit raw ivory now fetches nearly $700 per pound in some parts of Asia.

The money the Shabab earns from the black market in ivory allows the group to recruit and pay its soldiers well and consistently. Because of the trade, Shabab fighters are paid about $300 a month, while those in Somalia’s regular army have often earned far less.

Breaking the Shabab’s financial lifeline won’t be possible unless consumers quit buying ivory.

Every illegal ivory carving purchased has an associated trail of blood that leads from butchered elephants to terrorist fighters and ultimately to slaughtered human beings, like those in the Nairobi shopping mall.

While we welcome recent actions, such as President Obama’s executive order and the just-announced three-year, $80-million Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, which brings together NGOs, governments and concerned citizens to stop wildlife trafficking and the slaughter of Africa’s elephants, these things aren’t enough. It is ivory consumers who have the real power.

It is consumers who must understand the devastating toll of their purchases — and act accordingly.

Last year, more than 30,000 elephants were butchered on the African continent. A recent study found that more than 60% of the forest elephant population had been killed for ivory in the last decade, and scientists say they could well be extinct in 10 years if the butchery isn’t stopped.

And the larger savanna elephants are under attack too. In Zimbabwe, officials announced last month that more than 90 elephants were killed in a national park by poachers who spread cyanide in watering holes and salt pans, suggesting that poachers are growing more sophisticated and changing their tactics in response to more efficient operations by law enforcement agencies.

Buyers of ivory must understand that they are not simply purchasing a beautiful trinket. They are taking part in the slaughter of elephants. They are contributing to the deaths of rangers, men and women who lose their lives protecting elephants and rhinos. They are harming farmers, who have seen an increase in attacks by elephants traumatized by poachers. They are harming villagers and disadvantaged communities, who have been exploited by the poachers or forced into criminal activities.

It is expensive and logistically complicated for the Shabab to plan and carry out an attack, and the booming ivory trade is a very important source of funding. Consumers can impede the group by refusing to purchase ivory.

Laurel Neme is the author of “Animal Investigators: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species.” Andrea Crosta is founder of the Los Angeles-based Elephant Action League. Nir Kalron is founder and CEO of Maisha Consulting.

WildlifeDirect & Conservation Partners Announce Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action: Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants


CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu represents Kenya’s “Hands Off Our Elephants” Campaign in Meeting with Hillary & Chelsea Clinton

Commitment’s Goal: Stop the Killing, Stop the Trafficking,
Stop the Demand

Commitment Makers include: Wildlife Conservation Society,
African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Wildlife Fund

Commitment Partners: African Parks Network, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, National Geographic, Save the Elephants, TRAFFIC, WildAid and WildlifeDirect

Nations joining in commitment include: Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi, and Uganda

NEW YORK (Sept. 26, 2013) – Conservation groups announced today a three-year $80 million Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to stop the slaughter of Africa’s elephants, decimated due to poaching for ivory. Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, met with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, of the Clinton Foundation. “We are proud to join forces with these two formidable women who are dedicating real commitment and power to this cause,” Kahumbu said; “It is notable that Hillary herself raised the issue of the connection between the slaughter of elephants and the slaughter of humans by terrorist groups who fund their attacks by this greed. I only regret that President and First Lady of Kenya could not be here because of the tragedy in Nairobi, but am proud Africa was well represented at this table.”

The Commitment Makers and their partners commit to funding and facilitating partnerships to advance a new three-pronged strategy that will catalyze a global movement to coordinate and leverage influence, constituencies, and resources to protect key elephant populations from poaching while reducing trafficking and demand for ivory. Funding for this commitment has been provided by myriad public and private sources, including U.S., European, and African governments; along with multi-lateral institutions, foundations, and concerned individuals. Nations joining in the commitment include: Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi, and Uganda.

These funds will be used to support national governments to scale up anti-poaching enforcement at the 50 priority elephant sites including hiring and supporting an additional 3,100 park guards. In addition, anti-trafficking efforts will be increased by strengthening intelligence networks and penalties for violations and adding training and sniffer dog teams at 10 key transit points. New demand reduction efforts will be implemented in 10 consumer markets over the next three years.

Further, leaders from African nations led a call for other countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching.

The commitment was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting underway in New York City. CGI’s 2013 theme, Mobilizing for Impact, explores ways that CGI members and member organizations can be more effective in leveraging individuals, partner organizations, and key resources in their commitment efforts.

Today’s announcement is the culmination of work by Secretary Clinton while serving as Secretary of State, as well as Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton’s engagement, who visited conservation sites on a trip with the Clinton Foundation to Africa this summer. Together, they have convened the NGO’s and nations to ensure rapid progress to a solution to prevent the extinction of Africa’s elephants and the proliferation of the violence caused by the criminal syndicates wiping out the elephants.

In addition to the funds already committed, the partnership urgently seeks additional partners to provide $70 million in financial or in-kind support over the next three years to reverse the decline of Africa’s elephants.

African elephants are being lost at an unprecedented rate, and the demand for ivory shows no decline. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed illegally each year across Africa with some 35,000 lost in 2012 alone.

In addition to uniting national leaders and concerned groups and citizens, the commitment will focus attention on the national and global security implications of wildlife trafficking. As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $7-10 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. Notorious extremist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army, the janjaweed, and al-Shabaab poach ivory to fund terror operations.

Commitment Makers include: Wildlife Conservation Society, African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Wildlife Fund.

Commitment Partners are African Parks Network, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, National Geographic, Save the Elephants, TRAFFIC, WildAid and WildlifeDirect.

The commitment runs through 2016 and addresses the problem on three fronts: stop the killing; stop the trafficking; and stop the demand:

Stop the Killing: The Commitment will scale up “on the ground” anti-poaching enforcement in African range states to reduce the amount of illegally killed elephants to below 50 percent.

NGO partners will support government efforts to scale up law enforcement in and around 50 key protected areas in Africa that together harbor approximately 285,000 elephants, or some two-thirds of the entire African population. NGO partners pledge to support the anti-poaching efforts of over 5,000 park guards at these sites. Partners project that this investment will reduce the average percentage of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) across these sites from 66 percent to 48 percent, with elephant population decline halted in about half of the 50 sites (PIKE less than 50 percent). Thus this effort will take the commitment halfway to its ultimate goal, reversing the decline in Africa’s elephants.

Stop the Trafficking: Partner NGOs will support governments in identifying and implementing priority actions to combat trafficking in ivory. A complimentary range of urgent actions will be used to strengthen enforcement capacity at ports and markets; increase intelligence-led crackdowns on illicit networks; secure ivory stockpiles, and reform laws and penalties can be tailored to rapidly reduce trafficking.

This commitment includes an African government led call for other countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching. Government partners will initiate and support an African range state-led call to other range, transit and consumer countries to declare or restate domestic moratoria on all ivory and ivory product sales and purchases.

The partners commit to helping governments to reduce the number of large scale ivory shipments by 50 percent from 2011 baseline levels (the worst year on record for these ivory seizures) and extrapolating for changes in enforcement effort. In addition, the partners will work with governments to improve the potential detection and prosecution of illegal ivory trade by increasing the number of law enforcement officers and judiciary trained in Africa and Asia by 50 percent compared to 2011 levels by 2016.

Stop the Demand: The Commitment will target key consumer markets to increase awareness about poaching and illegal ivory trade, including generating 10 million actions taken via social media platforms to reduce ivory consumption and highlight the impact of ivory sales on the African elephant.

NGOs will use increased awareness to drive behavioral changes that will reduce consumption as well as result in “grassroots” political pressure on the governments of key consumer countries. Partners will work together to reduce the demand for ivory among potential consumers by both increasing awareness of the issues and providing mechanisms for civil society to take action. Partners pledge to take action, both individually and collectively, to reduce the stated intention to purchase ivory by at least 25 percent in key markets by the end of 2016 as measured by market research conducted at regular intervals throughout the duration of the commitment. This will be achieved by producing awareness content/materials and improving penalties and prosecutions that will spur behavior change and/or online action in key consumer countries. To measure success, standardized, replicable, scalable public opinion polls and surveys will be conducted within priority consumer countries.

Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper said: “On behalf of all the NGO partners involved in this initiative, I’m proud to announce that the Wildlife Conservation Society and their partners commit to providing $80 million over the next year to protect elephant populations by stopping the killing of elephants, stopping the trafficking in ivory, and stopping the demand for ivory across the world. We thank the Clinton Global Initiative, Sec. Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for helping to convene all the partners and for their long-time dedication to end this crisis. I know, together, we can move beyond extinction stats to the solutions to save elephants.”

African Wildlife Foundation CEO Patrick Bergin said: “We cannot hope to reverse the dramatic decline in elephant populations in Africa without addressing all three parts of the problem: the poaching of elephants on the ground in Africa, the global trafficking of ivory, and the insatiable demand by consumers for ivory products. This joint Commitment to Action demonstrates how much the resolution of this crisis relies on the coordination of efforts by multiple parties, from conservation organizations to governments around the world. African Wildlife Foundation thanks the Clinton Global Initiative for providing all of us with an opportunity to elevate the visibility of this crisis, and we personally thank Sec. Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for shining a spotlight on Africa’s elephants.”

Conservation International’s Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Peter Seligmann, said: “We applaud the Clinton Global Initiative for bringing this issue to the world stage, and greatly appreciate the deep and sustained personal involvement of Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, as well as that of our NGO, Foundation and government partners. Wildlife trafficking is directly connected to the global economy and security. It weakens ecosystems, fuels terrorist organizations, and threatens livelihoods. Conservation International is proud to be a part of this Commitment to Action, as it is in all of our enlightened self-interests to put an end to this deadly trade.”

Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO, said: “The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) committed to this partnership from the outset because it represents the kind of large-scale and strategic collaboration it will take to save African elephants. Animal welfare and conservation organizations, range states and consumer countries, law enforcement and communities that live around the elephants—we all need to work together on a common plan if there is to be any hope of success.”

Carter Roberts, President & CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said: “We know how to solve this crisis. What’s been missing is a united front from governments, NGOs and the private sector to scale up resources to stop the killing and crush the demand. Look at what has been done with conflict diamonds and fur from endangered species. The more people are aware of the consequences of what they buy, it changes what they do. We need to do the same with elephant ivory and rhino horn and tiger bone. What person would buy these things if they knew they slaughtered the most magnificent animals in the world? Because when people buy parts of these animals, they are contributing to the catastrophic killing taking place right now.”
Increasing consumer demand for ivory, particularly in Asia, is causing the price of ivory to skyrocket and is driving elephant poaching. Today’s ivory traffickers are primarily well-organized syndicates that operate as transnational criminal networks and often participate in other illegal activities, including trafficking in narcotics and weapons, and with links to terrorist networks. The poachers not only threaten the lives of elephants, but at least 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past ten years, as they try to protect elephants and other wildlife.

Dr Paula Kahumbu with members of the CGI group in New York

Dr Paula Kahumbu
with members of the
CGI group in New York


About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at

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