Africa's Elephants, New York's Problem

June 16, 2014

Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, and Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney, urge the New York State Senate to pass the ban on the purchase or sale of ivory.

As wildlife conservationists know well, New York has become one of the main points of entry for illegal ivory into the United States. A major investigation led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2012 highlighted the enormity of this moral and ecological crisis. Authorities seized 72 boxes of ivory trinkets from Manhattan’s Diamond District — all that was left of 100 slaughtered African elephants.

It is unacceptable for ivory poachers to have a toe-hold in our city. Elephant tusks being sold as mass-produced jewelry and decorative items in New York help to fuel a crisis claiming an estimated 96 elephants every single day in Africa.

The illegal wildlife trade is an international problem, but reducing trafficking in ivory and ivory products requires local solutions. That’s why we enthusiastically support a bill passed last week in the New York State Assembly that would amend the environmental conservation law to prohibit the purchase or sale of ivory. Action is expected in the state Senate this week.

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