Secretary applauds U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance for leadership to reduce U.S. demand, sales of illegally traded ivory and other wildlife products
March 3, 2016
Contact: Jessica Kershaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON - Marking World Wildlife Day, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today highlighted continued progress to implement President Obama’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, and applauded significant commitments from leading U.S. companies to stop consumer demand and limit market access for illegal wildlife products.
“If the current rates of poaching and wildlife trafficking continue, entire species are at risk of disappearing within our lifetime, and our children and grandchildren will never know the beauty and majesty of these iconic wild animals,” said Secretary Jewell, co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. “The U.S. is one of the largest markets for illegal trade of wildlife products, and preserving these important species means ending supply and demand for trafficked goods.”
The U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance today announced commitments secured from 16 leading companies in industry sectors that wildlife traffickers attempt to utilize, including traditional and e-commerce retailers and transporters, to combat wildlife trafficking and help consumers make informed purchase choices. The Alliance was formed to bring together corporations and nongovernmental organizations to work with the government to help eliminate the demand for illegal wildlife products in the U.S.
“We have made good progress in cracking down on this illegal market through cooperation across governments, but the private sector has an important role to play in these efforts,” added Jewell. “I applaud the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the leadership of David Hayes and Judith McHale in encouraging thoughtful businesses and non-profits to step up with strong commitments to stop this scourge.”
These companies and organizations include leaders in luxury apparel and accessory companies like Tiffany & Co., Signet Jewelers, Berkshire Hathaway (owners of Rio Grande and the Richline Group) and Ralph Lauren. Online commerce leaders joining the effort include eBay, Etsy, Google and LiveAuctioneers.com. Hospitality and travel industry leaders JetBlue Airways, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Natural Habitat Adventures and the Adventure Travel Trade Association have also committed to strong public awareness and outreach campaigns. Discovery Communications, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the Bronx Zoo have also made significant commitments to educate and raise awareness for U.S. consumers.
Secretary Jewell also applauded the release of the first Progress Assessment on the implementation of the President’s National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, highlighting the Administration’s work to strengthen enforcement against wildlife traffickers, reduce demand and expand international cooperation.
Of particular note, ‘Operation Crash’ led to the prosecutions of 30 individuals and businesses for wildlife trafficking-related crimes. Other accomplishments include implementing agencies efforts to train more than 2,000 wildlife enforcement officials globally. Highlighting international cooperation, President Obama and Secretary Jewell have also announced significant agreements abroad with cooperating countries.
In September, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to take important steps to stop the domestic commercial trade of ivory. This came on the heels of an historic visit to Kenya in 2015 by the President where he announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed new regulations that would prohibit most interstate commerce in African elephant ivory and further restrict commercial ivory exports. This action, combined with others FWS has already taken, would result in a near total ban on the domestic commercial trade of African elephant ivory.
Secretary Jewell earlier this year returned from a three-country African visit to meet with senior government officials to discuss ways the U.S. and South Africa, Gabon and Kenya can work together to combat the world’s growing illegal trade of wildlife. In Kenya, Jewell announced agreements to aid international collaboration and cooperation, committing resources, technical expertise and equipment to combat wildlife trafficking, increase communication, improve natural resources management, and support efforts to promote biodiversity conservation in conjunction with sustainable economic activities.
Secretary Jewell’s visit to Africa followed her meetings in China and Vietnam last summer in an effort to crack down on black markets at home and internationally. In November, Jewell also participated in bilateral meetings with senior officials from Gabon, Kenya and Namibia to discuss the countries’ shared commitment to conserve protected areas and fight wildlife trafficking in partnership with other consumer, transit and source countries.
The illegal wildlife trade is threatening the survival of many species in the wild. In a recent three-year period, approximately one fifth of the entire African elephant population – 100,000 elephants – were killed for their ivory. Small rhinoceros populations in South Africa also are being killed at a rate of more than three a day. In 2014, at least 1,215 animals were poached in South Africa alone.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which is currently under public and congressional review, includes the strongest international commitments to fight the illegal trade in endangered species of any trade agreement in history. By increasing enforcement, enhancing information sharing and mandating action, the Obama Administration is working with other countries to cut off supplies of illegal ivory, rhino horn and other items and reducing poaching with the end goal of saving the world’s iconic species.