WCS Applauds Albany for Agreement Banning the Sale of Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn And Encourages Passage Into Law

"By passing this legislation our New York State lawmakers will show global leadership to stop the serious crime killing off Africa's elephants and rhinos and sparking security issues across the world‎.”

New York, June 17, 2014 -- The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds New York State lawmakers for their agreement on a bill to stop the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade and encourages Albany to take the final legislative steps to pass the ban.

WCS President and CEO Cristiàn Samper, who also serves as a member of The President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, said:

"We urge our New York State lawmakers to show global leadership to stop a serious crime killing off Africa's elephants and rhinos and sparking security issues across the world‎.

"We are encouraged by the three-way deal that was struck between the Governor and Senate and Assembly leadership. The two-house bill was introduced in the Senate and the Assembly this morning: S7890 by State Senators Adam Lanza and Tony Avella; and A10143 by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney.

“Now, we need the two legislative bodies to come together and pass this law. We thank Gov. Cuomo and leaders in the Senate and Assembly for their attention to this serious crime.

“New York is the number one importer of ivory into the United States. In an op-ed this week in the Daily News with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., we co-wrote: ‘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.’

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. Every day, about 96 elephants are poached by criminals profiting off the killing of this magnificent animal. New York can send a clear message and make history now with passage of this legislation.

WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and is working New in York State and nationally to pass elephant ivory and rhino horn sale bans.

In addition , WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign (www.96elephants.org) 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.

John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants campaign said: “Our coalition applauds the bipartisan spirit of this balanced approach and urges swift adoption of this historic legislation. We thank all the coalition members across New York State who have joined forces behind this important initiative, 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.”

The legislation would amend the state’s environmental law to ban ivory sales with only a few exceptions for antiques with small amounts of ivory, certain musical instruments with ivory and transfers for educational and scientific purposes or through the distribution of estates.

Here is a link to the Daily News op-ed: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/africa-elephants-new-york-problem-article-1.1829277#ixzz34vuomYJx

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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