96 Elephants has launched a fictional appraisal on YouTube: http://youtu.be/kdfe6v6qOTU

WCS says high-end ivory appraisals send wrong message

96 elephants are killed every day in Africa for their ivory

WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign URL: www.96elephants.org

NEW YORK (April 30, 2014) –
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign is urging the popular PBS program “Antiques Roadshow” to stop its on-air appraisals of ivory. WCS says the appraisals are sending the wrong message to the public and are helping perpetuate a black market that is wiping out elephants at an unprecedented rate.

96 Elephants has launched a fictional appraisal on YouTube that brings to light the many negative issues surrounding the ivory trade. These include the wholesale slaughter of elephants, murdering of park guards, organized crime, terrorism, and human rights abuses.

Antiques Roadshow regularly appraises ivory objects on its popular program including this carved tusk from the Belgian Congo. While the program mention various legal requirements required in order to sell ivory, WCS says that the current legal trade masks a black market trade. In addition WCS says that glorifying the burgeoning value of ivory – due in part to the rise in the Asian market sends a troubling mixed message.

Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Director of the 96 Elephants campaign: “Thirty-five thousand elephants were slaughtered last year due to the demand for ivory. We know that the legal trade has a confusing set of loopholes that allows the black market trade to thrive. We believe that Antiques Roadshow has a moral obligation to do the right thing and halt ivory appraisals as while this crisis rages on.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is extremely difficult to differentiate legally acquired ivory, such as ivory imported in the 1970s, from ivory derived from elephant poaching. USFWS criminal investigations and anti-smuggling efforts have shown clearly that legal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade.

WCS is urging the public to tell the show to stop appraising ivory and help stamp out the black market for ivory in America: http://bit.ly/1mcDTzV

Added Calvelli: “We recognize that Antiques Roadshow has the unique ability to reach a broad audience to help protect Africa’s elephants. We urge them to join our campaign and take a stand against ivory by ending on-air appraisals.”

Unscrupulous antiques dealers falsely identify ivory from recently killed elephants as antique, which not only harms elephant populations, but also harms legitimate antique businesses. In 2011, an antiques dealer in Philadelphia was convicted of smuggling more than one ton of ivory into the U.S. by disguising it as antique.

Said Calvelli: “Allowing any carved tusks or worked ivory – antique or not – into the marketplace furthers the existing loophole for illegal ivory and renders law enforcement ineffective. It sends a message to China and other consumer countries that it’s okay to sell raw and worked ivory, including ‘old’ stockpiles – further fueling the elephant poaching crisis. Our message to the public is simple: your family heirloom had its own family – don’t let elephants disappear.”

The 96 Elephants campaign has already achieved success with the recent announcement by the Obama administration of a federal ban on most ivory sales. In addition, legislation has been introduced to ban ivory sales in New York and Hawaii. The campaign’s next steps are to continue to work to pass state moratoria and close loopholes that would allow ivory to continue to be traded, as well as work with other nations on banning ivory.

The public overwhelmingly supports banning ivory sales. A recent independent survey in New York State shows that 80 percent or voters support a ban of ivory sales.

96 Elephants was named for the number of elephants gunned down each day for their ivory. 96 Elephants partners include more than 100 North American zoos and aquariums, along with the Bodhi Tree Foundation, DD&B Worldwide, Enough Project, ESRI, Horizon Media, Hotel Plaza Athanee, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Organization of Young Citizens of Guinea, The Resolve: LRA Crisis Initiative, Invisible Children, and Tsavo Trust.

Stephen Sautner, 718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli, 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
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.

96 Elephants
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 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 sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis. www.96elephants.org