It’s Not Just About Ivory

Some days, frustrating days, no one I talk to seems troubled by how many elephants are being killed to provide ivory for trinkets and status symbols.  After all, how does this impact life in New York, San Francisco, Ohio, Florida or other spots I frequent? If you fall into this category, then consider this.  Last week, the U.S. Department of State hosted a meeting on wildlife trafficking, and the keynote address was delivered by none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The following excerpt from her remarks describes why the State Department is interested:

“. . .By some estimates, the black market in wildlife is rivaled in size only by trade in illegal arms and drugs. Today, ivory sells for nearly $1,000 per pound. Rhino horns are literally worth their weight in gold, $30,000 per pound.  What’s more, we are increasingly seeing wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world. Local populations that depend on wildlife, either for tourism or sustenance, are finding it harder and harder to maintain their livelihoods. Diseases are spreading to new corners of the globe through wildlife that is not properly inspected at border crossings. Park rangers are being killed. And we have good reason to believe that rebel militias are players in a worldwide ivory market worth millions and millions of dollars a year. . .Protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical. . .” (click here for Secretary Clinton’s complete remarks).

Demand for ivory drives criminal activity, kills or harms innocent people, injures struggling economies and contributes to environmental degradation.  It’s a no brainer, even if you don’t care about the elephants (although I really cannot imagine anyone not caring) . . .  don’t buy ivory. . . and encourage everyone you know to boycott ivory products.