Statement by WCS President and CEO Cristiàn Samper on Recommendations From The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking

"As a global community, we must conduct a blitz against wildlife trafficking now or in our lifetime such majestic species as elephants could go extinct in large parts of their range."

New York, June 16, 2014 – Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristiàn Samper has issued a statement in strong support of recommendations to implement the U.S. National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking submitted this week to the Presidential Task Force co-chaired by Secretaries John Kerry and Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Dr. Samper serves as a member of The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking. Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Executive Director of Conservation Policy, also serves on the council.

The recommendations set forth three strategic priorities of the U.S. wildlife trafficking national strategy: (1) Strengthen Enforcement; (2) Reduce Demand for Illegally Traded Wildlife; and (3) Expand International Cooperation and Commitment.

Dr. Samper said:

“The recommendations of The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking being forwarded to The President’s Task Force are an important step toward the United States showing global leadership by taking aggressive steps against the transnational crime of wildlife trafficking.

“I have been honored to serve on the council with all of its members and alternates. I especially thank the advisory council's chair, Judith McHale; and vice-chair, David Hayes.

“These recommendations advocate for a strong public-private effort in the U.S. and globally. Several of the elements will specifically leverage and support WCS efforts on the ground in Africa and Asia to stop the killing of such species as elephants and tigers; our public outreach campaign in the United States, 96 Elephants, aimed at stopping the trade of illegal elephant ivory; WCS efforts in New York State to pass a ban on ivory sales; and our work to galvanize zoos and aquariums behind a range of conservation and wildlife anti-trafficking efforts.

“Wildlife trafficking is sparking criminal activity in communities across our globe and is threatening to wipe out species such as elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins, sea turtles and many others. As a global community, we must conduct a blitz against wildlife trafficking now or in our lifetime such majestic species as elephants could go extinct in large parts of their range.

“Wildlife crime should be treated as a serious crime. Our recommendations, if implemented, will ensure that wildlife crime is no longer seen as second class crime. The U.S. government must act with all its great strength at home and abroad to fight this crime with aggressive policies, prosecutions and public advocacy, and collaboration with partner governments and NGOs.”

To see the full text of the recommendations click here: http://www.fws.gov/international/advisory-council-wildlife-trafficking/pdf/advisory-council-recommendations-06-09-14.pdf

CONTACT:
Chip Weiskotten, 202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org
Mary Dixon, 347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org

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