WCS Congratulates New York State Assembly For Historic Vote to Ban Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn

New York, June 12, 2014 -- The Wildlife Conservation Society welcomed the historic vote in the New York State Assembly on Wednesday aimed at banning the purchasing and sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn.

The New York State Assembly passed legislation amending the state’s environmental law to ban ivory sales with only a few exceptions for antiques with small amounts of ivory, and transfers for educational and scientific purposes or through the distribution of estates. The New York State Senate is expected to take up a similar measure in the next few days.

“New York State has an opportunity to show global leadership by banning the sale of elephant and rhino ivory,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper who also serves as a member of The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking .

“New York can set the tone that any actions – even those here in the United States – are contributing to the demise of elephants and rhinos. 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.

“We are encouraged that the New York State Senate will likewise pass a ban and that Governor Cuomo will ultimately sign the measure into law. We extend our congratulations to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney, the ban’s champion, for their leadership and to all the co-sponsors in the Assembly.

“New York is the number one importer of ivory into the United States. This state legislation will enhance federal efforts to tighten the ivory trade ban on a federal level. It also sends a clear signal that actions connected to the poaching of elephants and rhinos are serious crimes. They demand tougher penalties which we hope to see in the final state ban.

“Over the past two years, it has become clear that the large-scale poaching of elephants and trafficking in ivory presents enormous economic and security challenges across Africa and beyond. The illegal ivory trade both flourishes from and contributes to a climate of instability and lawlessness in many African elephant range states, in which humanitarian crimes have risen dramatically.”

WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign (www.96elephants.com) to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants” by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective moratoria on domestic sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.

John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants campaign said: “We urge our supporters to reach out to Albany lawmakers to help get this done before time runs out.. We thank all the coalition members across New York State who have joined forces behind this legislation, including NRDC, HSUS, TNC, IFAW, Environmental Advocates of New York, Sierra Club, PBA NYS, Elephants DC, Buffalo Zoo, Aquarium of Niagara, Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo, Utica Zoo, NYS Zoo at Thompson Park and several humanitarian groups including the Enough Project, The Resolve LRA, United to End Genocide, Relief International, and Invisible Children.”

Here is a link to the Assembly legislation: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A8824A-2013

CONTACT:
MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)


Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION:
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS.

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