Elephant lovers of the world, we know how you feel. Nowadays, it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the devastating plight that elephants face today. There’s a lot — too much — of bad news right now, with wild elephants closer to extinction than ever before. But here at Elephants DC, we want to make sure everyone takes a moment to celebrate the good news, too!
After all, good news energizes us. It reminds us the world can change for the better. And good news motivates us to keep working on behalf of elephants everywhere. There’s still a long road ahead of us, but if we don’t take a step back once in a while, we might miss out on a chance to appreciate how far we’ve already come.
So, here are three recent victories for elephants in the past few months — and our notes on what we at Elephants DC think is up next. There are some awesome, historic events in motion right now aimed at ending the illegal elephant poaching epidemic once and for all. Let’s build on that momentum, and keep on striving for more great progress for elephants.
Victory #1: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bans Import of “Trophy” Ivory from Zimbabwe and Tanzania
Elephant poaching has reached crisis levels in Tanzania, and elephant populations are rapidly declining in Zimbabwe. We’re thrilled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a ban of imported ivory from “trophy hunting” in these nations. One of our favorite parts? The announcement’s condemnation of the “questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance” in these nations. Protecting elephants from illegal poaching requires a strong government commitment, among other things — and these nations aren’t pulling their weight. The U.S. has taken an important stand by declaring that kind of behavior won’t be tolerated. Well done!
What’s Next? The United States’ ban here was a great way to acknowledge the crisis elephants are undergoing in these nations. But we at Elephants DC believe more needs to be done on the ground level to protect these at-risk ellies. Among other things, we’re advocating for the United Nations to establish an immediate ranger program in these nations to help counter poaching in the field.
Also, we’ve gotta note: Elephants DC advocates for a total, permanent ban of ALL imported ivory. For example, trophy hunting imports are still allowed from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. While these nations have higher elephant populations and stronger conservation programs that should be commended, we believe elephants are too close to extinction worldwide to be hunted anywhere, for any reason. Elephants are intelligent, noble creatures — not trophies.
Victory #2: Two States Are Leading the Way in Ivory Regulations — Hawaii and New York
We couldn’t be more pleased that the Aloha state is leading the charge against ivory — especially since Hawaii has the third largest market for ivory products in the United States. On April 8, the Hawaiian Senate unanimously passed HB 493 SD1, a bill restricting ivory sales in the state. As of April 10, the bill is in conference where both Chambers work to agree on the final terms and amendments. We’ve heard there’s a good chance this bill will become law in 2014!
Meanwhile, 5,000 miles way in New York, Assemblyman Robert Sweeney is proposing similar legislation to fully prohibit the purchase, sale and trade of all elephant ivory. Elephant advocates — such as Brian Gillis in a recent New York Daily News op ed — are calling for the New York state legislature and governor to support the bill.
What’s next? First up, the bills in Hawaii and New York need to become law, ASAP. Follow us on Facebook for opportunities to write to lawmakers in these states whenever a key vote comes up. And then, why stop at two states? Elephants DC is calling for similar legislation in all 50 states as well as the U.S. territories. You can join our volunteer-based Elephants DC advocacy team to help — we welcome members nationwide. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to join today!
Victory #3: President Obama Has Banned (Some) Commercial Ivory Trade in the United States
In February, the White House made history and took immense (even elephant-sized!) strides towards protecting elephants by announcing a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking — including a commercial near-ban on trade in elephant ivory. The National Strategy aims to combat wildlife trafficking by (1) increasing enforcement of anti-trafficking laws, (2) reducing demand for illegal wildlife goods such as ivory both in the U.S. and abroad, and (3) building stronger partnerships with other nations, industry, NGOs and others. We agree wholeheartedly that all three steps are crucial to protect elephants from extinction.
What’s next? The President’s ban on commercial ivory trade was momentous! But here at Elephants DC, we think we can do better. The elephants deserve better. That’s why we’re calling for the President to turn his “near-complete ban” into a TOTAL ban — no loopholes allowed.
On May 1, we’re launching a People’s Petition at the White House to promote that total ban. Stay tuned — we’ll be launching a website soon announcing our petition — you’ll even be able to register in advance to sign the petition if you like. Check out our Facebook event page, and get ready to share the petition and spread the word like crazy come May 1! We can make a difference.